Reynolds, DeJear spar on education, taxes, abortion in debate

During their first and only televised debate, gubernatorial candidates, Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds, and Democratic candidate Deidre DeJear showcased different opinions on education, taxes, and abortion.


Left, Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds speaks during Ashley Hinson’s BBQ Bash at the Linn County Fairgrounds Sunday, Aug. 28, 2022. Right, Iowa Democratic gubernatorial candidate Deidre DeJear speaks at a town hall, hosted by the University of Iowa Democrats, at the Iowa Memorial Union on Monday, Sept. 26, 2022.

Emily Delgado, Politics Reporter

Incumbent Gov. Kim Reynolds, R-Iowa, and Democratic gubernatorial candidate Deidre DeJear went back and forth on taxes, education, and abortion at their first and only televised debate on Monday evening. 

Reynolds ascended to the governor’s office from being lieutenant governor after being appointed by Gov. Terry Branstad, who left office to serve as U.S. ambassador to China. She was then elected by the public in 2018 and is running for another term. 


Iowa’s latest tax cut applied a flat tax rate of 3.9 percent, making it the third major tax cut Reynolds signed as governor.  

“If we’re over collecting, we’re going to get that money back to hardworking Iowans, we’ve over collected then we need to turn it back to them,” Reynolds said. 

Reynolds said because of the tax cuts, the state budget has gone from a deficit to a surplus of $1.9 billion. 

DeJear said Reynolds’s tax cut has had a low to minimum impact on working-class Iowans. 

“I’ve come to find out as well those tax cuts don’t add value,” DeJear said. “What does add value are the systems that help around them, like strong education, access to health care, mental health care services.” 

DeJear shared that after her mother died when DeJear was eight years old, government-funded services, such as mental health, helped her to succeed in her life. 

DeJear said the tax cuts being passed by Reynolds and the Republican-led Iowa Legislature are short-sighted, and the state should invest more in public systems. 

“I believe these were the moments for us to invest our resources and maximize the potential of the Iowa dollar, and so we’re going to have to look at what these tax cuts are going to do to Iowans at the bottom,” DeJear said. 

Reynolds boasted during the debate about the state’s budget surplus. DeJear said as a result of the surplus, public systems are not working. 

“That surplus is evidence that the Iowa taxpayer dollar is not going to work. It’s just being hoarded,” DeJear said. “We have to make sure that we’re maximizing every potential of the Iowa taxpayer dollar.” 


Both DeJear and Reynolds said at the debate that public education is a valued asset in Iowa. 

If elected, DeJear said she would fund universal preschool with federal money and Iowa taxpayer dollars.

In rebuttal, Reynolds said any new government program introduced means an increase in taxes.

DeJear disagreed, saying “It does not mean more money coming in from taxpayers, it means utilizing the taxpayer dollars that are already there,” referring to the state surplus of $1.9 billion.

Reynolds said the parent’s ability to choose where their child attends school is equally as important as how much the public education system is funded. 

“It’s critical that we have a strong public school system as the foundation of our society and our state and we want to make sure that we’re adequately funding our public school systems,” Reynolds said. 

Reynolds said having parent involvement in education is just as crucial in Iowa’s education system as funding is. 

“If your child is in a failing school, or they’re not getting what they need, then they should have the option to get that child in a different environment,” Reynolds said. 

During last year’s legislative session, Reynolds attempted to pass a bill that would use tax-payer dollars to give scholarships to students attending private schools in Iowa. Reynolds is in favor of giving money to private schools but also stated her opposition to President Joe Biden’s Student Loan Forgiveness Plan in the debate.

“They signed a contract to get that loan and that they would pay that back,” Reynolds said. “It does nothing to reduce the high cost of education. It does nothing but encourage bad borrowing practices.” 

Reynolds said it is unfair to have working-class Iowans — like truck drivers, mechanics, and nurses — pay off loans of the people who make more than them. 

DeJear said as governor she would work to make higher education affordable and accessible. DeJear said in order to make higher education affordable, Iowa needs to provide more funds to the state Board of Regents.


If elected, DeJear said she will work to codify the right to abortion in Iowa following the overturning of Roe v. Wade in June 2022.  

“I realized that again, now that the fight is in the state’s hands and so we have to defend it right here in the state,” DeJear said. 

During her time as governor, Reynolds signed the fetal heartbeat law after both the Iowa House and Senate passed the bill, banning abortions as early as six weeks. 

When Reynolds signed the law in 2018, it was the toughest anti-abortion law in the country. The law is currently tied up in the courts and not in effect, though Reynolds asked the court to revisit the legislation following the Dobbs v. Jackson decision. At this time, abortion is legal up to 20 weeks in Iowa. 

“My goal is to make the law that’s on the books law, and it’s in the courts,” Reynolds said. 

Reynolds did not say during the debate if she would work to ban abortion before six weeks of pregnancy if reelected. 

When DeJear said she wanted to codify Roe, Reynolds pressed DeJear on if she would support laws allowing abortion up to birth. 

In response, DeJear said it was not her place or any politicians’ place to voice their personal views on abortion. When DeJear was in high school, she volunteered at an after-school program with a third-grade child who was pregnant, she said.

“Trying to dictate and regulate pregnancy in black and white the way that our governor chooses to do that little girl has minimal options if any at all, and we cannot put Iowans in those types of situations,” DeJear said. 

Election day is Nov. 8, and the early voting period begins this week for Iowans. The latest Des Moines Register/Mediacom Iowa Poll shows Reynolds with a 17 percentage point advantage. 

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