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Hubbell: Iowa needs to invest more in education

Hubbell: Iowa needs to invest more in education
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CEDAR RAPIDS — Iowa’s economy will “gradually deteriorate” unless the state invests more in education, Democratic gubernatorial candidate Fred Hubbell said at a Friday campaign stop at The Hotel at Kirkwood Center, a teaching lab for many Kirkwood Community College students.

Were he elected, Hubbell said, he would commit more state dollars to Iowa’s education system and job training programs.

“That’s one of my top priorities as governor is to start to really fund our education system again,” Hubbell told about a dozen Kirkwood staff members. “Whether it’s community colleges or Regents (universities), we’ve just been cutting, cutting, cutting.”

Hubbell’s stop was part of a four-day “Invest in Education Tour,” which will include appearances in Iowa City, Davenport and Dubuque. Hubbell visited Sioux City, Storm Lake and Carroll on Thursday.

Hubbell, 66, is one of seven Democrats seeking the party’s gubernatorial nomination in the June 5 primary.

Hubbell on Friday criticized the tax credits that Gov. Kim Reynolds has offered businesses — calling them “wasteful corporate giveaways” — and blamed those incentives for cuts to the budgets of community colleges and Iowa’s public universities.

“It doesn’t have to be this way,” he said, promising to add “sunset” provisions to many of the tax credits.


Kirkwood officials told Hubbell they have cut programs and raised tuition because of state budget cuts.

K-12 education is set to receive a 1 percent increase in state aid next school year, which Hubbell called “not enough.”

Hubbell, of Des Moines and the former chairman of Younkers, said he was encouraged to see that Kirkwood already is collaborating with local school districts, universities and employers in training students.

“They’re trying to put together programs that are cost-effective for everybody and do it in a simple way, which makes it easier for employers to get the people that they need,” he said. “We have to be more creative about how our education systems all work together.”

Kirkwood President Mick Starcevich told Hubbell the demographics of Kirkwood’s students have shifted in recent years.

“We have high rates of unemployment in minorities and immigrants in our state,” Hubbell said. “The more we could help them get the education training that they need, their lives would be better, but we’d also have additions to our workforce.”

Kirkwood officials said they would like to be more financially accessible to more students. But Starcevich told Hubbell he is not interested in free community college — a policy promoted by some Democrats.

Students, Starcevich said, should have “some skin in the game.”

Reversing the trend of rising tuition, though, would be beneficial, Vice President of Student Affairs Bill Lamb said.


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“Perhaps not free tuition, but I would much rather see us reduce our tuition by $7 a credit hour for the next 10 years than increase it by $7 a credit hour, in order to fund the quality education we’ve got,” Lamb said. “If we could go the other way, I think we could open up the door to even more people.”

l Comments: (319) 398-8330; molly.duffy@thegazette.com

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