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Iowa Legislative and Political Reporters

posted on January 10, 2005

IOWA PRESS #3219 >>

Borg: A NEW IOWA GENERAL ASSEMBLY CONVENES MONDAY. COMMENTS ON THE NEW LEGISLATIVE SESSION FROM THE SPEAKER OF THE IOWA HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, SIOUX CITY REPUBLICAN CHRISTOPHER RANTS, ON THIS EDITION OF 'IOWA PRESS.'


FUNDING FOR THIS PROGRAM WAS PROVIDED BY 'FRIENDS,' THE IOWA PUBLIC TELEVISION FOUNDATION; BY THE IOWA BANKERS ASSOCIATION… FOR PERSONAL, BUSINESS, AND COMMERCIAL NEEDS, IOWA BANKS HELP IOWANS REACH THEIR FINANCIAL GOALS; BY THE ASSOCIATED GENERAL CONTRACTORS OF IOWA… THE PUBLIC'S PARTNER IN BUILDING IOWA'S HIGHWAY, BRIDGE, AND MUNICIPAL UTILITY INFRASTRUCTURE; AND BY CAPITOL RESOURCES, INC., LOCATED IN BROOKLYN, IOWA; AND BY NICOLE SCHLINGER AND ERIC LANGE INDIVIDUALLY, FUND-RAISING AND COMMUNICATION SERVICES FOR MAJOR CAMPAIGNS SINCE 1996.

ON STATEWIDE IOWA PUBLIC TELEVISION, THIS IS THE FRIDAY, JANUARY 7 EDITION OF 'IOWA PRESS.' HERE IS DEAN BORG.

Borg: DURING THE LAST TWO MONTHS, LEGISLATIVE LEADERS AND GOVERNOR TOM VILSACK HAVE BEEN SHAPING THE LEGISLATIVE PRIORITIES LIST. THOSE PRIORITIES, NO MATTER HOW AGGRESSIVE OR BENIGN, ARE FLOATED IN A SEA OF RED INK. IF THAT SOUNDS FAMILIAR, IT SHOULD. REVENUE HAS BEEN ESPECIALLY TIGHT DURING THE PAST TWO LEGISLATIVE SESSIONS. THIS TIME AROUND, THOUGH, THERE'S A NEW DYNAMIC IN THE POLITICAL MAKEUP OF BOTH THE HOUSE AND THE SENATE. THE 2004 GENERAL ELECTION GAVE DEMOCRATS FOUR ADDITIONAL SEATS IN THE IOWA SENATE, COMPLETELY ERASING THE EIGHT-SEAT ADVANTAGE REPUBLICANS ENJOYED DURING THE LAST SESSION. IT'S NOW 25/25 WITH DEMOCRATS AND REPUBLICANS IN A POWER SHARING MODE IN THE SENATE. IN THE IOWA HOUSE, REPUBLICANS RETAIN CONTROL BUT ONLY BY TWO SEATS. WE'VE INVITED THE SPEAKER OF THE IOWA HOUSE, SIOUX CITY REPUBLICAN CHRISTOPHER RANTS, TO THE 'IOWA PRESS' TABLE TODAY. SPEAKER RANTS, I'M RESISTING UNTIL NOW THE MOTHER HUBBARD RHYME -- NURSERY RHYME THAT SAYS 'AND WHEN THEY GOT THERE, THE CUPBOARD WAS BARE.' BUT THAT'S KIND OF THE WAY IT IS, AND WE'LL DISCUSS THAT. ACROSS THE IOWA PRESS TABLE, TWO VETERAN STATEHOUSE JOURNALISTS: 'DES MOINES REGISTER' POLITICAL COLUMNIST DAVID YEPSEN AND 'RADIO IOWA' NEWS DIRECTOR KAY HENDERSON.

Henderson: MR. SPEAKER, IOWANS ARE TALKING ABOUT THE BOTTLE BILL. WHEN I SAY IOWANS, I'M NOT TALKING ABOUT JUST GROCERS. IOWANS ARE GOING BACK TO THEIR GROCERY STORE AND FINDING THEY CAN'T RETURN THEIR BOTTLES AND CANS FOR DEPOSIT. THE ATTORNEY GENERAL SENT A STERN LETTER THIS WEEK TO THE FAREWAY STORES ABOUT THEIR BOTTLE REDEMPTION POLICY. WHAT WILL THE LEGISLATURE DO IN RESPONSE TO THIS CONTROVERSY?

Rants: TO BE HONEST, KAY, I'M NOT SURE I HAVE A GOOD ANSWER TO THAT QUESTION AT THIS POINT IN TIME. I KNOW THAT REPRESENTATIVE GREINER, WHO CHAIRS THE ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION COMMITTEE, HAS ALREADY TOLD ME SHE'S PLANNING ON HAVING HEARINGS. SHE PARTICULARLY IS INTERESTED IN WATCHING HOW THE MONEY FLOWS. WHERE IS THE MONEY GOING RIGHT NOW THAT'S CURRENTLY BEING COLLECTED THROUGH THE BOTTLE DEPOSIT. IT'S SORT OF THE OLD STORY, YOU KNOW. SOME PEOPLE ARE COMPLYING WITH THE LAW AND, UNFORTUNATELY, THEY'RE GOING TO GET CASTIGATED ALONG WITH THOSE FOLKS THAT HAVE JUMPED THE GUN, HAVEN'T ARRANGED TO HAVE A PROPER REDEMPTION CENTER TO ACCEPT THOSE CANS AND BOTTLES, AND THAT'S WHAT'S CAUSING THE CONTROVERSY. BACK WHEN THE BOTTLE DEPOSIT LAW WAS ORIGINALLY PASSED -- A LOT OF IOWANS DON'T KNOW THIS -- BUT IT DID PROVIDE FOR AN ALTERNATIVE TO RETURNING THOSE CANS AND BOTTLES TO THE GROCERY STORE. I DON'T KNOW HOW IT'S GOING TO PLAY OUT. I THINK A LOT OF IOWANS ARE VERY CONCERNED ABOUT THAT. I AM ONE, HOWEVER, I ALWAYS TELL PEOPLE MY BIAS. WHEN I WAS IN HIGH SCHOOL AND COLLEGE, I WORKED IN A GROCERY STORE. I GOT TO EMPTY ALL THOSE CANS AND BOTTLES THAT CAME BACK WITH THINGS THAT WE CAN'T MENTION ON YOUR SHOW TODAY. SO I UNDERSTAND IT. THAT'S NOT THE KIND OF STUFF YOU WANT IN A FOOD STORE. BUT IOWANS ARE ENAMORED WITH CONVENIENCE. IOWANS ARE USED TO THAT CONVENIENCE. THEY WANT TO KEEP THE CANS TAKEN CARE OF. THEY DON'T WANT TO SEE THEM ON THE ROADSIDE, SO WE'RE GOING TO HAVE TO WORK THROUGH THAT PROCESS. I DON'T KNOW IF THERE ARE GOING TO BE ANY CHANGES, BUT THERE WILL BE A DEBATE.

Henderson: SO THERE COULD BE NOTHING HAPPEN.

Rants: THAT'S ENTIRELY POSSIBLE. I THINK THERE'S A GOOD CHANCE THAT THOSE FOLKS THAT ARE LOOKING TO FORCE THE GROCERY STORES TO TAKE THOSE CANS AND BOTTLES, IF THEY GET A BILL UP AND MOVING, THEY'RE NOT GOING TO BE ABLE TO RESIST THE TEMPTATION TO ALSO EXPAND THE BOTTLE BILL. I MEAN FOR THE LAST SEVERAL YEARS, DIFFERENT INTEREST GROUPS HAVE COME TO THE CAPITOL SAYING WE NEED TO EXPAND THE BOTTLE BILL, INCLUDE MILK JUGS OR WATER BOTTLES OR ICE TEA OR WHATEVER THE CASE MIGHT BE. I DON'T KNOW IF THEY CAN RESIST THE TEMPTATION TO TRY TO EXPAND IT, AND I THINK THAT WEIGHS THE LEGISLATION DOWN.

Yepsen: MR. SPEAKER, CAN'T TWO PLAY THIS GAME OF STRICT ADHERENCE TO THE LAW? I MEAN THE LAW SAYS YOU HAVE TO BRING THE CANS BACK CLEAN, AND STORES DO NOT HAVE TO REDEEM STUFF THEY DO NOT SELL, CORRECT?

Rants: AND THEY CAN TURN THEIR CUSTOMERS AWAY IN THAT REGARD AS WELL. INSTEAD, THEY'RE CHOOSING TO TURN THEM AWAY IN A DIFFERENT WAY.

Yepsen: A SECOND QUESTION THAT A LOT OF PEOPLE ARE TALKING ABOUT, CIGARETTE TAX. THE GOVERNOR IS GOING TO PROPOSE RAISING THE CIGARETTE TAX. SOME PEOPLE WANT IT A DOLLAR A PACK. I'M NOT SURE THE GOVERNOR WILL GO THAT HIGH. YOU'VE RESISTED THAT IDEA IN THE PAST. WHERE IS THIS ALL GOING TO WIND UP AT THE END OF THE DAY?

Rants: IT'S PROBABLY TIME TO TALK ABOUT MEDICAID ON THIS SHOW. YOU SAID THE CUPBOARD WAS BARE, AND THIS IS ONE OF THE REASONS. THE REASONS THAT PEOPLE ARE TALKING ABOUT RAISING THE CIGARETTE TAX IN IOWA, WHETHER IT BE A DOLLAR, 60 CENTS, 30 CENTS, WHATEVER IT MIGHT BE, IS THAT THE HEALTH CARE COMMUNITY IS LOOKING FOR A WAY TO SHORE UP THE MEDICAID BUDGET. THEY'RE LOOKING FOR A FUNDING SOURCE. WE KNOW THAT THIS YEAR, MEDICAID IS GOING TO COST US ABOUT $185 MILLION. THAT'S THE PROJECTION ON THE ASSUMPTION THAT WE MAKE NO CHANGES TO WHO'S ELIGIBLE, WHAT SERVICES ARE BEING PROVIDED, WHAT WE'RE ASKING PEOPLE TO PAY FOR THOSE SERVICES, AND WHAT WE'RE WILLING TO PAY FOR THOSE SERVICES. IT WILL COST THE STATE GOVERNMENT ABOUT $185 MILLION. WE DON'T HAVE $185 MILLION. THE FACT IS WE ARE EXPECTING ABOUT $158 MILLION IN INCREASED REVENUE THIS YEAR. THERE'S SOME GOOD NEWS WITH THAT, BUT PEOPLE ARE LOOKING AT THE TAXES TO TRY TO RAISE THAT REVENUE. THE PROBLEM IF YOU DO THAT, DAVID, IS IF YOU JUST BANK ON INCREASED TAX REVENUE, WHAT ARE YOU GOING TO DO NEXT YEAR? I MEAN WE HAVE TO APPROACH THIS LOOKING AT A TWO-YEAR BUDGET, EVEN THOUGH WE ONLY PASS THE BUDGET ONE YEAR AT A TIME. BUT WHAT HAPPENS NEXT YEAR IF YOU DON'T DO ANYTHING ABOUT ENROLLMENTS OR THE COST? WE KNOW PHARMACEUTICAL COSTS ARE GOING TO GO UP. WE KNOW THE COST OF PROVIDING HEALTH CARE IS GOING TO GO UP. IF YOU ONLY COUNT ON TAXES, YOU HAVEN'T DONE ANYTHING TO PREPARE FOR NEXT YEAR WHEN SUDDENLY YOU'RE LOOKING AT ANOTHER HUNDRED AND SOME MILLION DOLLARS. YOU ALSO HAVE THE ADDITIONAL PROBLEM WITH BORDER COMMUNITIES AND THE FACT THAT WE'RE NOT GOING TO RAISE THE REVENUE THAT PEOPLE PROJECT YOU WILL ON CIGARETTE TAXES. IN FACT, YOU WILL ALSO LOSE SOME REVENUE IN OTHER PARTS. I COME FROM A BORDER COMMUNITY, SO THAT GUY WHO STOPS OFF AT THE EAST END MINI MACS ON MORNINGSIDE AVENUE TO BUY HIS, YOU KNOW, PACK OF SMOKES FOR THE DAY, PUTS FIVE BUCKS WORTH OF GAS IN HIS CAR, GETS HIS MORNING COFFEE, HIS PAPER, AND MAYBE A SANDWICH FOR LUNCH. GUESS WHAT, WE LOST ALL THAT ADDITIONAL REVENUE, WHEN NOW HE BUYS IT OVER IN SOUTH SIOUX ON HIS WAY TO, YOU KNOW, THE IBP PLANT OVER THERE OR ON HIS WAY TO IAMS OVER IN SOUTH DAKOTA. IT REALLY HITS THE BORDER COMMUNITIES VERY HARD.

Yepsen: ALL RIGHT. SO I UNDERSTAND THAT THERE'S BORDER ISSUES. I UNDERSTAND THAT THERE ARE OTHER ISSUES, THE MEDICAID PROGRAM, AND YOU MAY HAVE TO CUT SOME SERVICES IN THIS. BUT MY QUESTION WASN'T ABOUT THAT. MY QUESTION WAS HOW MUCH WILL YOU RAISE THE CIGARETTE TAX. 25 CENTS? 50 CENTS?

Rants: I DON'T KNOW THAT WE WILL RAISE THE CIGARETTE TAX. REPRESENTATIVE GIPP -- AND I AGREE WITH WHAT CHUCK SAYS -- LOOKING AT THAT TAX OUGHT TO BE OUR LAST RESORT. WE OUGHT TO FIRST LOOK AT WHAT WE CAN DO TO CONTROL THE MEDICAID COSTS. WE OUGHT TO BE FIRST EXPLORING AN ISSUE OF MANAGED CARE, WHERE ELSE CAN WE APPLY MANAGED CARE. I KNOW THAT'S GOING TO BE VERY UNPOPULAR. BUT LET'S GO BACK AND LOOK AT WHAT WE'VE TRIED TO DO WITH ENCOURAGING IOWANS TO PURSUE GENERIC -- PURCHASING GENERIC PHARMACEUTICALS INSTEAD OF THE NAME-BRANDS. THIS ONLY APPLIES TO THOSE IOWANS ON MEDICAID. IT GOT CAUGHT UP IN ALL THIS CAMPAIGN RHETORIC LAST TIME. IF YOU FOLLOWED THE CAMPAIGNS, YOU WOULD HAVE THOUGHT THAT THE REPUBLICANS IN THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY HAD TRIED TO RAISE ALL SENIOR CITIZENS' PHARMACEUTICAL COSTS. IT WASN'T THE CASE. WE WERE ASKING MEDICAID RECIPIENTS IN IOWA TO PAY ONE DOLLAR MORE AS A COPAY FOR PHARMACEUTICALS. BUT NOW THAT WE HAVE THIS SITUATION YOU ALLUDED TO AT THE BEGINNING WITH THE SPLIT SENATE, THEY'RE GOING TO HAVE TO HAVE SOME SHARED RESPONSIBILITY. AND REALLY THAT'S SHARING OF RISK. MEDICAID IS THE PERFECT EXAMPLE BECAUSE IT'S THE WORST BUDGET PROBLEM WE HAVE FACING US RIGHT NOW. AND TO SOLVE THAT, THERE ARE NO SILVER BULLETS AND IT'S GOING TO MAKE SOME VERY DIFFICULT DECISIONS. AND YOU'RE GOING TO HAVE SOME SHARED RISK IN MAKING SOME OF THOSE DIFFICULT DECISIONS. WE HAVE TO GO THROUGH THAT FIRST, I BELIEVE, BEFORE YOU EVER START TALKING ABOUT TAXES, BECAUSE (A) YOU CAN'T RAISE ENOUGH OF THE CIGARETTE TAX TO COVER YOUR WHOLE PROBLEM AND (B) YOU'RE JUST SETTING YOURSELF UP FOR A PROBLEM TO FACE THE FOLLOWING YEAR.

Borg: WE WILL GET BACK TO THOSE DOLLARS AND CENTS ISSUES IN A MINUTE OR TWO, BUT I WANT TO ASK TOO, BEFORE WE DO THAT, IS THERE ANYTHING LEGISLATIVELY THAT THE LEGISLATURE CAN DO FOR THE DEPARTMENT OF NATURAL RESOURCES TO DEAL WITH THE DEER POPULATION? PEOPLE ARE COMPLAINING ABOUT DEER POPULATION, AND BODY SHOPS ARE AS BUSY AS THEY CAN BE.

Rants: IT WAS REPORTED IN THE NEWS THIS WEEK THAT WE'RE GOING TO PROBABLY HAVE A DEBATE ON DOVE HUNTING. SOME HAVE SUGGESTED THAT IF YOU TAKE A DOVE, YOU HAVE TO TAKE A DEER ALONG WITH IT. I DON'T KNOW THAT WE'LL GO THAT FAR. THERE HAS BEEN A CONSTANT I DON'T WANT TO SAY BATTLE, BUT THE LEGISLATURE HAS TRIED IN THE PAST TO BE RESPONSIVE TO THE CONCERNS THE PUBLIC HAS BROUGHT TO US ABOUT THE DEER POPULATION, PARTICULARLY FROM A SAFETY FACTOR, FOR THOSE OF US WHO SPEND A LOT OF TIME ON THE HIGHWAY. THE DEPARTMENT OF NATURAL RESOURCES SOMETIMES FINDS ITSELF AT ODDS WITH US. I THINK THAT REPRESENTATIVE FREEMAN I HOPE -- SHE CHAIRS OUR NATURAL RESOURCES COMMITTEE. I KNOW SHE'S GOT A PRETTY FULL AGENDA LOOKING AT LAKES ISSUES, BUT I THINK WE'RE GOING TO HAVE A NUMBER OF HUNTING ISSUES COMING BEFORE THAT COMMITTEE AS WELL. I IMAGINE THIS WILL BE PART OF IT. YOU HAVE THE WHOLE ISSUE ABOUT WHAT -- SOME PEOPLE VIEW IT AS ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT. IOWA IS A GREAT PLACE TO HUNT. IT'S A GREAT PLACE FOR SPORTSMEN AND WOMEN TO COME, WHETHER IT BE FISHING OR HUNTING, GOING AFTER DEER. THIS IS AN ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT ACTIVITY IN SOME PARTS OF THE STATE, SO I THINK IT'S SOMETHING THAT WILL PROBABLY GET SOME ATTENTION.

Yepsen: WELL, MR. SPEAKER, YOU'RE SUPPOSED TO BE A GOOD REPUBLICAN. ISN'T THIS AN ISSUE THAT'S AN EXAMPLE OF GOVERNMENT REGULATION THAT'S FAILED, THE DNR HAS FAILED? WE NOW HAVE AN EXCESS DEER POPULATION. IT'S NOT A LAUGHING MATTER. PEOPLE ARE GETTING KILLED OUT THERE BECAUSE OF THESE THINGS, IN ADDITION TO THE PROPERTY DAMAGE DEAN MENTIONED. I MEAN, WHY DON'T WE JUST DEREGULATE THIS WHOLE THING? WHY DO WE HAVE TO REGULATE ANY DEER HUNTING AT ALL?

Rants: ANYBODY HUNT WHEREVER THEY WANT TO?

Yepsen: EXACTLY. MAYBE YOU COULDN'T DO IT INSIDE THE CITY LIMITS, MR. SPEAKER, BUT YOU COULD JUST SIMPLY SAY WE'RE NOT GOING TO REGULATE THIS.

Rants: TO BE HONEST, DAVID, THAT'S SOMETHING I HAVEN'T THOUGHT ABOUT BEFORE. I MEAN I KNOW WE HAVE A LOT OF THESE ISSUES LIKE THE BOTTLE BILL AND DEER HUNTING AND DOVE HUNTING AND THINGS LIKE THAT. IN PREPARATION FOR THE UPCOMING SESSION, I'VE BEEN THINKING MORE ABOUT ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT AND MEDICAID, THE $158 MILLION THAT WE DO HAVE IN THE BUDGET AND WHERE THAT GOES. SO I'LL TAKE THE THOUGHTS ABOUT DEER HUNTING UNDER ADVISEMENT. DEREGULATING DEER HUNTING --

Yepsen: I HOPE YOU DON'T GET HIT BY A CAR -- OR HIT BY A DEER AS YOU DRIVE DOWN TO THE SENATE.

Henderson: WELL, LET'S TAKE A STEP BACK. WHAT DO REPUBLICANS WANT TO DO IN 2005, OR DO YOU WANT TO DO NOTHING, WHICH IS OFTENTIMES WHAT REPUBLICANS WANT?

Rants: I THINK THAT, TO A CERTAIN EXTENT, SOME PEOPLE SAY IT'S DEJA VU' ALL OVER AGAIN. I THINK OUR NUMBER ONE FOCUS HAS TO BE A ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT. REPRESENTATIVE HOFFMAN, WHO CHAIRS THE ECONOMIC GROWTH COMMITTEE IN THE HOUSE, ON THE OPENING DAY OF THIS SESSION IS GOING TO FILE THE FIRST BILL, WHICH WILL BE HIS VERSION OF THE IOWA VALUES FUND. SO WE'RE GOING TO REVISIT THAT ISSUE. WE HAVE TO REVISIT THAT ISSUE. IT'S MY HOPE -- AND SOME PEOPLE SAY I'M WRONG ON THIS -- THAT IT WON'T BE AS CONTROVERSIAL AS IT HAS BEEN IN THE PAST. MY BELIEF THAT IT WON'T BE AS CONTROVERSIAL IS I THINK IOWANS REALIZE OR AT LEAST POLICYMAKERS I THINK HAVE REALIZED THAT THIS IS THE ONLY TOOL WE HAVE IN OUR TOOLBOX AT THE DEPARTMENT OF ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT RIGHT NOW. DURING GOVERNOR VILSACK'S FIRST TERM, A LOT OF THE DEPARTMENT OF ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT WAS DISMANTLED. I THINK HE REALIZED THAT THROUGH THE ELECTION, AND THAT'S WHY HE EMBRACED ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT LAST TIME. IT'S SOMETHING WE HAVE TO CONTINUE TO FOCUS ON. WHAT I WOULD HOPE THAT WE DO IS WE GO BACK TO THE DRAWING BOARD. I WOULD LIKE TO SEE US GO THROUGH A SIMILAR PROCESS TO WHAT WE DID TWO YEARS AGO AND DEVELOP A COMPREHENSIVE APPROACH TO WHAT IT TAKES TO REBUILD OUR ECONOMIC INFRASTRUCTURE. THAT MEANS FOCUSING ON BIOTECHNOLOGY, ADVANCED MANUFACTURING, INFORMATION SERVICES. IT ALSO MEANS GOING BACK TO THE REGENTS SCHOOLS AND LOOKING AT HOW WE COMMERCIALIZE SOME OF THE GREAT IDEAS THAT THEY HAVE, GET THOSE IDEAS OFF THE LAB SHELF AND INTO THE MANUFACTURING PROCESS. IT MEANS TO CONTINUE TO LOOK AT QUALITY-OF-LIFE ISSUES. THAT'S GOING TO BE PART OF THAT POLICY BILL -- AND IT WILL BE AN APPROPRIATIONS BILL THAT REPRESENTATIVE HOFFMAN WILL BEGIN WORK ON. WE'RE ALSO GOING TO HAVE TO GO BACK TO THE DRAWING BOARD AND LOOK AT ADDITIONAL REGULATORY CHANGES. I MEAN I KNOW IT WAS CONTROVERSIAL WHEN WE DID THE WORKERS COMP REFORM, BUT WE NOW SEE THAT THE WORKER COMP INSURANCE RATES DID IN FACT GO DOWN SINCE THE SPECIAL SESSION. EMPLOYERS ARE BEING ABLE TO SAVE MONEY ON THEIR WORKERS COMP INSURANCE. WE NOW NEED TO TAKE THAT THE NEXT STEP AND START LOOKING AT UNEMPLOYMENT COMP, LOOKING AT THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN STATES. I RECENTLY GOT THE NEW MARKETING FLYER THE DEPARTMENT OF ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT IS USING. TO A CERTAIN EXTENT IT'S A LITTLE HUMOROUS, BUT LIVING IN WESTERN IOWA, IT'S NOT SO MUCH. THE DEPARTMENT IS COMPARING IOWA IN TERMS OF THE MIDWEST AND SAYING HOW IOWA RANKS VERY WELL. THE PROBLEM IS SOUTH DAKOTA APPARENTLY, IN THE EYES OF THE DEPARTMENT OF ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT, ISN'T A MIDWESTERN STATE, YET THAT'S WHERE WE'RE LOSING A LOT OF OUR BUSINESSES TO. I MEAN THAT'S WHAT'S REALLY HURTING AND KILLING -- KILLING DOWNTOWN SIOUX CITY. AND I DON'T KNOW IF IT'S JUST THE FACT THIS IS A MARKETING TOOL AND WE REALIZE WE DON'T COMPARE VERY WELL WITH SOUTH DAKOTA OR IF, TO A CERTAIN EXTENT, SOME PEOPLE OVER IN THE DEPARTMENT HAVE THEIR HEADS IN THE SAND AND AREN'T AWARE OF THE PROBLEMS WE'RE HAVING IN TERMS OF COMPETITION WHEN IT COMES NOT ONLY TO TAXES BUT THE COST OF DOING BUSINESS WITH SOME OF THESE REGULATORY THINGS.

Yepsen: MR. SPEAKER, BEFORE YOU LEAVE ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT, WHAT WILL YOU DO TO HELP ENTREPRENEURS START NEW BUSINESSES?

Rants: I THINK PART OF THAT IS WITH THE VALUES FUND. I KNOW THE VALUES FUND GETS A BUM RAP FOR --

Yepsen: WELL, THAT TAKES CARE OF WELLS FARGO AND $10 MILLION.

Rants: AND THAT -- AND I HAVE SAID ALL ALONG THAT THAT -- I THINK THAT THAT DECISION TO MAKE WELLS FARGO THE FIRST GRANT THAT THE GOVERNOR AND MIKE BLOUIN AWARDED I THINK WAS A MISTAKE, NOT THAT WELLS FARGO MAY NOT HAVE BEEN DESERVING BUT IT COLORED PEOPLE'S OPINIONS, BECAUSE WHEN WE BUILT THE VALUES FUND, I MEAN WE HAD IOWANS DRIVING OVER --

Yepsen: EXCUSE ME. I UNDERSTAND THAT CRITICISM. I WANT TO KNOW WHAT YOU'RE GOING TO DO FOR ENTREPRENEURS.

Rants: WELL, OKAY. LET'S TALK ABOUT VENTURE CAPITAL THEN. WE STARTED THE VENTURE CAPITAL PROGRAM A COUPLE YEARS AGO. NOW WE BELIEVE I THINK WE'RE GOING TO HEAR THAT WE'VE GOT ABOUT $80 MILLION AVAILABLE IN THAT. I KNOW THAT REPRESENTATIVE HOFFMAN IS HAVING THOSE FOLKS COME BACK BEFORE HIS COMMITTEE AGAIN THIS YEAR, AND WE'RE GOING TO LOOK AT WHAT IT TAKES TO GET THAT PROGRAM EXPANDED: WHY ARE WE NOT SEEING INVESTMENTS YET; WHAT CHANGES DO WE NEED TO MAKE? BUT I KNOW THAT HE IS LOOKING SPECIFICALLY AT WHAT WE DID IN VENTURE CAPITAL, WHY THE MONEY HASN'T BEEN EXPENDED YET, AND WHAT IT TAKES TO GET THAT MONEY OUT THERE.

Henderson: YOU ALSO MENTIONED TAX POLICY. YOU HAVE FOLKS OUT THERE AGITATING SIGNIFICANT PROPERTY TAX CHANGES. THE GOVERNOR HAS LAID A SET OF TAX REFORM PROPOSALS ON THE TABLE. WHAT, IN THE END, WILL THIS CLOSELY DIVIDED LEGISLATOR DO IN REGARDS TO STATE TAX POLICY?

Rants: DO YOU WANT TO TALK ABOUT INCOME OR PROPERTY FIRST?

Henderson: WELL, YOU TELL ME.

Rants: WELL, LET'S TALK ABOUT PROPERTY. TO -- I WILL TAKE MY HATS OFF TO THE LEAGUE OF CITIES AND ISAC AND EVEN TO THE LEAGUES -- AND TO THE IOWA STATE ASSOCIATION OF SCHOOL BOARDS. THEY HAVE ALL LAID IDEAS ON THE TABLE. THEY'RE ALL VERY CONTROVERSIAL AND THEY ALL HAVE THIS SORT CERTAIN ELEMENT OF PICKING WINNERS AND LOSERS. IT MAY ONLY BE IN A SITUATION WHERE YOU HAVE A CLOSELY DIVIDED LEGISLATURE, WHERE THERE IS THIS ELEMENT OF SHARED RISK THAT YOU CAN MAKE CHANGES, BECAUSE YOU'RE GOING TO GO OVER SOME OBSTACLES. THERE'S NO WAY TO DO IT. WHAT CONCERNS ME ABOUT THIS DEBATE -- WE CAN GET IN AND WE CAN TALK ABOUT THE ROLLBACK AND WE CAN TALK ABOUT WHETHER OR NOT YOU'RE GOING TO MAKE NONPROFITS PAY FEE FOR SERVICES AS ISAC AND THE LEAGUE HAVE SAID, BUT WE'RE MISSING WHAT I THINK IS THE PARAMOUNT ISSUE IN THE DISCUSSION OF PROPERTY TAXES, AND THAT IS GOVERNANCE. AND MAYBE, MAYBE -- AND ONLY IN THIS SITUATION CAN WE ACTUALLY HAVE AN HONEST CONVERSATION ABOUT GOVERNANCE IN IOWA, BECAUSE OTHERWISE YOU'RE JUST TALKING ABOUT TAKING THE SAME AMOUNT OF MONEY THAT IOWANS ARE PAYING AND CHANGING WHO'S PAYING IT. WE'LL HAVE RESIDENTAL PAY A LITTLE BIT MORE INTO THE LEAGUE'S PLAN AND COMMERCIAL WILL PAY A LITTLE BIT LESS. AND THE IOWA STATE ASSOCIATION OF SCHOOL BOARDS' PLAN, PROPERTY POOR DISTRICTS WILL PAY A LITTLE BIT LESS AND PROPERTY RICH DISTRICTS WILL PAY A LITTLE BIT MORE.

Henderson: SO YOU'RE TALKING ABOUT FORCED CONSOLIDATION OF CITY AND COUNTY SERVICES.

Rants: I'M TALKING ABOUT SUGGESTING -- I'M TALKING ABOUT LAYING OUT AN OPTION FOR CITIES AND COUNTIES TO LOOK AT.

Henderson: DO SUGGESTIONS WORK? DON'T YOU HAVE TO FORCE THE ISSUE?

Rants: WELL, I THINK THE ISSUE IS BEING FORCED. KAY, ONE OF TWO THINGS HAPPEN. WE EITHER PLAN FOR THIS CHANGE OR IT'S FORCED UPON US BECAUSE THE SYSTEM CRUMBLES UNDER ITS OWN WEIGHT, AND THAT'S WHAT'S HAPPENING TODAY. IOWANS ARE RETICENT TO EMBRACE CONSOLIDATION BECAUSE IT'S -- YOU KNOW, WE DON'T LIKE CHANGE. I BELIEVE THE REASON WE DON'T LIKE CHANGE IS WE DON'T KNOW WHAT WE'RE CHANGING TO. WE'RE LOOKING IN THIS DARK TUNNEL AND WE DON'T KNOW WHAT'S AT THE OTHER SIDE OF IT. SO THE LEGISLATURE I THINK -- AND TO BE HONEST, IT WOULD BE GREAT TO HAVE THE GOVERNOR BEING THE ONE TO HELP PAINT THIS VISION -- HAS TO DESCRIBE TO IOWANS WHAT'S ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THIS DARK TUNNEL. AND MAYBE THERE'S A CONSOLIDATED GOVERNMENT. GET THE LEGISLATIVE SERVICE BUREAU TO DRAW LINES TO MAKE SURE THAT ALL PARTS OF THE COUNTY HAVE EQUAL REPRESENTATION SO IT'S NOT JUST CITIES. AND YOU LAY IT OUT THERE FOR VOTERS TO EMBRACE. AND IF THEY EMBRACE IT, HERE'S WHERE YOU'RE GOING TO SAVE MONEY. YOU'RE ONLY GOING TO HAVE ONE LAW ENFORCEMENT AGENCY INSTEAD OF FIVE. YOU'RE ONLY GOING TO HAVE ONE FIRE DEPARTMENT, AMBULATORY SERVICE INSTEAD OF THREE, AND SHOW THEM WHY IT'S GOING TO SAVE THEM MONEY. OR THE CHOICE IS -- THE CHOICE IS YOU STAY WITH WHAT YOU HAVE, UNDERSTANDING THERE'S GOING TO BE CONTINUED LESS SUPPORT AND CONTINUED MORE RELIANCE UPON PROPERTY TAXES. YOU HAVE TO GIVE THEM THAT CHOICE. IT'S A DANGEROUS PROPOSITION. POLITICIANS ARE RETICENT TO ENTER INTO THAT BECAUSE THERE'S A LOT OF POLITICAL FALLOUT THAT COULD COME ALONG WITH IT. BUT PERHAPS IN A TIME WHEN WE HAVE EQUALLY DIVIDED GOVERNMENT AND THERE HAS TO BE ASSURED RISK, YOU CAN DO IT. WE'VE BEEN TALKING ABOUT THIS ISSUE SINCE 1933. THE BROOKINGS INSTITUTE IN 1933 DID A STUDY IN IOWA AND SAID WE HAD TOO MUCH GOVERNMENT. THEY WERE ACTUALLY TALKING ABOUT CONSOLIDATING COUNTIES. I'M CONVINCED IT'S NOT 99 COUNTIES THAT'S A PROBLEM. IT'S 990 LOCAL GOVERNMENTS.

Yepsen: WHAT ABOUT INCOME TAX? SPECIFICALLY, FEDERAL DEDUCTABILITY, THE GOVERNOR WANTS THAT REPEALED; AND SECONDLY, PENSION AND SOCIAL SECURITY -- INCOME TAX ON PENSION AND SOCIAL SECURITY INCOME.

Rants: THE GOVERNOR HAS LAID A VERY CLEVER TRAP FOR REPUBLICANS IN THE HOUSE AND INVADED IT WITH THIS VERY APPETIZING REPEAL OF SOCIAL SECURITY AND PENSION TAX. IT'S SOMETHING REPUBLICANS HAVE SUPPORTED IN THE PAST, AND YOU'LL ALSO SEE THAT LEGISLATION INTRODUCED ON THE OPENING DAY OF THE SESSION. THE PROBLEM IS HE'S TRYING TO PAY FOR IT BY REPEALING FEDERAL DEDUCTABILITY. LAST -- OR EXCUSE ME, TWO YEARS AGO THE LEGISLATURE ACTUALLY PASSED A REPEAL OF FEDERAL DEDUCTABILITY. IT WAS PREDICATED ON PASSAGE OF A CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT TO MAKE SURE THAT TAX RATES DIDN'T GO BACK UP. AND THE SECOND PART WAS IT HELD EVERY TAXPAYER NEUTRAL. IN FACT, EVERY TAXPAYER GOT A TAX REDUCTION. UNDER THE GOVERNOR'S PROPOSAL, HE REPEALS FEDERAL DEDUCTABILITY, TAKES HALF OF THAT REVENUE THAT'S GENERATED FROM THE LOSS OF THE DEDUCTION, AND USES THAT TO REPEAL SOCIAL SECURITY. AND THEN HE TAKES THE OTHER HALF TO TRY TO BUY DOWN RATES. THE PROBLEM IS HALF THE TAXPAYERS, IOWANS WHO ARE MAKING MORE THAN $40,000 A YEAR WOULD SEE AN INCREASE IN INCOME TAX RATES. THAT DOESN'T WORK. IT'S A TAX SHIFT. THE GOVERNOR'S PLAN IS A TAX SHIFT.

Yepsen: IS IT D.O.A.?

Rants: AS IT IS, YES, IT'S D.O.A. WE ARE NOT GOING TO RAISE INCOME TAXES IN IOWA.

Yepsen: WHAT ABOUT THE CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT? WILL YOU PASS THAT?

Rants: I'M CERTAINLY GOING TO TRY. IT'S A DIFFICULT ISSUE. WE PASSED IT NARROWLY IN THE HOUSE. WE ONLY HAD TWO DEMOCRATS SUPPORTING IT. WE HAD NO DEMOCRATS IN THE SENATE. NOW, THE GOVERNOR IS SUPPORTIVE OF THIS CONCEPT. I TOLD THE GOVERNOR, IF YOU REALLY WANT US TO TALK ABOUT THE ISSUE OF FEDERAL DEDUCTABILITY ON ITS OWN -- WE WANT TO TALK ABOUT FEDERAL DEDUCTABILITY, YOU'VE GOT TO HELP ME PUT TOGETHER A FEW MORE DEMOCRATIC VOTES SO WE CAN PASS THIS THING IN THE SENATE AND THE HOUSE, BECAUSE I THINK THAT IS WHAT YOU PREDICATE ANY DISCUSSION ABOUT FEDERAL DEDUCTABILITY ON.

Yepsen: GO AHEAD.

Henderson: WHAT ABOUT WHEN IOWANS GO AND GET THEIR INCOME TAXES DONE? WILL THEY PAY SALES TAX ON THEIR ACCOUNTING FEES? ARE YOU GOING TO EXPAND THE NUMBER OF SERVICES, WHICH ARE ASSESSED AT THESE STATE SALES TAX?

Rants: I DON'T THINK YOU'LL SEE THAT HAPPEN AT THE STATE LEVEL. AGAIN, IT'S INTERESTING, THE ATTORNEYS DIDN'T MAKE THE LIST THIS TIME AROUND. SO IF YOU'RE AN ATTORNEY, YOU'RE SAFE FOR A WHILE. BUT PARTICULARLY -- AND AGAIN, I'M SHOWING MY BIAS AND EVERYBODY KNOWS THAT RANTS IS FROM NORTHWEST IOWA, HE'S FROM SIOUX CITY SO, YOU KNOW -- I DON'T WANT TO HARM MY COMMUNITY BUT I ALSO DON'T WANT TO HARM COUNCIL BLUFFS OR DUBUQUE OR DAVENPORT OR KEOKUK OR ANY OF THE OTHER BORDER COMMUNITIES IN THE STATE WHERE YOU WOULD SEE ALL THE ACCOUNTING, ALL THOSE SERVICE INDUSTRIES MOVE ACROSS THE STATE -- OR MOVE ACROSS THE COUNTY LINES. WE HAVE A PROBLEM IN OUR BORDER COMMUNITIES THAT -- PARTICULARLY WHEN I LOOK AT MY DOWNTOWN, MY DOWNTOWN IS STARTING TO LOOK LIKE A GHOSTTOWN. COUNCIL MEMBERS DON'T LIKE TO HEAR ME SAY THAT, BUT THEY'RE WORKING THEIR TAILS OFF AND THEY'RE EQUALLY CONCERNED. AND WHAT'S HAPPENING IS WE'RE LOSING A LOT OF THOSE PEOPLE WHO CONTROL THEIR OWN SMALL BUSINESSES, NOT THE LARGE MANUFACTURERS, BUT DOCTORS, ACCOUNTANTS, LAWYERS. PEOPLE LIKE THAT WHO CAN MOVE THEIR BUSINESS VERY EASILY ACROSS LINES. IT'S HAPPENING. IT'S HAPPENING ON ALL SIDES, ON BOTH BORDERS IN THE STATE, BUT IT'S PARTICULARLY HAPPENING ON THE WESTERN BORDER. ONE OF THE THINGS THAT REPRESENTATIVE HOFFMAN IS GOING TO FILE A BILL ON -- AND HE'S TAKING A LOOK AT THIS -- IS WHAT THEY'VE DONE IN TEXARKANA; ARKANSAS AND TEXAS. WHERE THEY'VE LOOKED AT A MODEL WHERE ARKANSAS WAS BLEEDING INTO TEXAS. PEOPLE WERE MOVING LEFT AND RIGHT, LEFT AND RIGHT FROM ARKANSAS INTO TEXAS. AND IN THE COMMUNITY OF TEXARKANA, IT WAS GOING TO KILL THAT TOWN. WHAT THEY DID WAS THEY CREATED A ZONE WHERE THEY COULD HAVE THE SAME TAX RATE AS TEXAS DID, BUT THE PEOPLE OF TEXARKANA HAD TO FIND ANOTHER MECHANISM, A LOCAL DECISION, TO HOLD THE STATE TREASURY HARMLESS FOR THAT LACK OF INCOME TAX AND FIND ANOTHER WAY TO DO IT. THAT'S SOMETHING THAT REPRESENTATIVE HOFFMAN IS GOING TO INTRODUCE THAT I THINK WE HAVE TO LOOK AT IN THE STATE, OTHERWISE WE'RE GOING TO LOSE OUR BORDER COMMUNITIES.

Yepsen: MR. SPEAKER, WE'VE GOT WAY TOO MANY QUESTIONS AND --

Rants: I KNOW WE DO, DAVID.

Yepsen: AND I WANT TO MOVE ON TO ANOTHER SUBJECT, THE BALANCED BUDGET. WE TALKED ABOUT MEDICAID BEING A PROBLEM FOR YOU. WE TALKED ABOUT TAX POLICY. THE STATE AUDITOR SAYS THE STATE'S BUDGET IS OUT OF WHACK, THAT YOU BORROWED A LOT OF MONEY LAST YEAR, REPUBLICANS IN THE LEGISLATURE, FROM FUNDS. WILL YOU PAY IT BACK? WILL THE STATE GET ON A PLAN HERE TO CLEAN UP ITS BOOKS?

Rants: SOME OF THE MONEY IS GOING TO BE PAID BACK. FOR INSTANCE, OUR RESERVE ACCOUNTS ARE GOING TO START TO BE REFILLED. AND THANK GOODNESS THEY ARE BECAUSE, YOU KNOW, WE NEED THEM TO HELP CASH FLOW AND TO HELP WITH THE MEDICAID BUDGET. I THINK THAT PROBABLY NOT THIS YEAR BUT THE FOLLOWING YEAR, YOU'LL SEE SOME MONEY BEING RETURNED TO THE SENIOR LIVING TRUST FUND. WE'VE TAKEN A LOT OF CRITICISM FOR THAT. THE FACT IS WE'VE USED THE SENIOR LIVING TRUST FUND TO HELP PROVIDE MEDICAID SERVICES FOR IOWA SENIORS. SO I THINK IT'S A LEGITIMATE USE. SOME FUNDS, TOBACCO SECURITIZATION FUND PROBABLY WON'T BE REPAID BACK. I'M NOT SURE THEY REALLY NEED TO. ONE OF THE THINGS I KNOW THAT CHAIRMAN DIX, WHO CHAIRS OUR APPROPRIATIONS COMMITTEE, IS GOING TO LOOK AT IS SORT OF HOW YOU PUT TOGETHER A REPAYMENT SCHEDULE. THE PROBLEM IS WE'RE NOT OUT OF THE WOODS JUST YET. WE ARE GOING TO HAVE TO TAKE MONEY OUT OF THE SENIOR LIVING TRUST FUND. I KNOW THAT'S NOT POPULAR BUT WE'RE GOING TO HAVE TO DO THAT IF WE'RE GOING TO CONTINUE TO PROVIDE SERVICES FOR SENIORS ON MEDICAID. THE GOOD NEWS IS WE ACTUALLY HAVE SOME NEW REVENUE. IT'S ABOUT $158 MILLION. THE BAD NEWS IS WE'VE GOT BUILT-INS THAT EXCEED THAT. WE'RE LOOKING AT MAYBE $100 MILLION FOR K-12 EDUCATION.

Henderson: LET'S TALK ABOUT K-12 EDUCATION.

Rants: SURE.

Henderson: YOU ALSO HAVE PEOPLE WHO ARE SAYING YOU SHOULD SPEND MORE ON PREKINDERGARTEN, PEOPLE WHO SAY YOU NEED TO START PLUGGING MORE MONEY INTO BOOSTING TEACHER SALARIES. WHAT INDEED WILL HAPPEN IN REGARDS TO EDUCATION POLICY IN THE 2005 SESSION?

Rants: WELL, THE FIRST DEBATE WE HAVE TO HAVE OF THE YEAR IS ALLOWABLE GROWTH. WE'RE REQUIRED LAW TO SET THAT UP --

Henderson: AND THAT'S THE GENERAL LEVEL OF STATE AID.

Rants: THAT'S THE GENERAL LEVEL OF WHAT STAYED AID IS GOING TO BE K-12 SCHOOL DISTRICTS.

Yepsen: FOUR PERCENT?

Rants: REPRESENTATIVE TYMESON, WHO CHAIRS THE EDUCATION COMMITTEE FORCE IN THE HOUSE, IS GOING TO FOLLOW A BILL ON THE OPENING DAY SETTING ALLOWABLE GROWTH AT 4 PERCENT. THAT'S WHAT WE SET IT AT LAST YEAR. I THINK THAT'S A REASONABLE FIGURE. SOME FISCAL CONSERVATIVES WILL LOOK AT ME AND SAY, CHRISTOPHER, HOW ARE YOU GOING TO PAY FOR THAT. I DON'T HAVE A GOOD ANSWER FOR THAT ONE YET, BUT THAT'S SOMETHING THAT WE'RE GOING TO WORK ON. I DON'T THINK WE CAN MAKE A BACKWARDS STEP TO K-12 EDUCATION AT THIS STAGE OF THE GAME. THE PROBLEM IS A LOT OF THE DISCUSSION THAT YOU SAW RECENTLY THIS FALL LEADING UP TO THE END OF THE YEAR FOCUSED ON DECLINE OF TEACHER SALARIES IN RELATIONSHIP TO THE NATIONAL AVERAGE. AND I SAID, TRYING TO GET SOME OF YOU FOLKS TO REPORT, DID YOU SEE THAT DECLINE FOR AFSCME OR THE STATE EMPLOYEES UNION. I FIRMLY BELIEVE THAT THESE TWO ISSUES ARE LINKED TOGETHER. THE GOVERNOR IS CURRENTLY IN NEGOTIATIONS WITH AFSCME, AND THAT IS POTENTIALLY THE LARGEST PART OF THE BUDGET. WE HAVE SEEN EDUCATION THE LAST FEW YEARS SUFFER BECAUSE OF TWO THINGS. EDUCATION GOT TAKEN OFF OF AUTOMATIC PILOT BACK IN '93, THE LAST TIME WE HAD A BIG BUDGET CRISIS. BUT WHAT HAS STAYED ON AUTOMATIC PILOT HAS BEEN MEDICAID AND, TO A CERTAIN EXTENT, STATE EMPLOYEE SALARIES. I MEAN, BECAUSE OF THE COURT CASE WITH BRANSTAD, I MEAN THE GOVERNOR -- WE HAVE TO HONOR THAT COLLECTIVE BARGAINING AGREEMENT. THE LEGISLATURE IS EXCLUDED FROM MAKING THAT DECISION. BUT THE LEGISLATURE DOES GET INVOLVED IN HOW MUCH OF THAT BUDGET WE FUND. I WOULD SUBMIT, I DON'T THINK YOU CAN FUND A 4-PERCENT ALLOWABLE GROWTH. YOU CAN'T DO ANYTHING IN EARLY CHILDHOOD IF THE GOVERNOR NEGOTIATES THE KIND OF SALARY PACKAGE HE HAS IN THE PAST WITH AFSCME. THERE JUST ISN'T ENOUGH MONEY TO GO AROUND, SO IT'S TIME TO MAKE A CHOICE: WHAT IS YOUR NUMBER ONE PRIORITY? IF IT IS EDUCATION, IT MEANS YOU'RE GOING TO HAVE TO DO SOMETHING MEDICAID. IF IT IS EDUCATION, THAT MEANS YOU CAN'T FULLY FUND A COLLECTIVE BARGAINING AGREEMENT THE GOVERNOR NEGOTIATES WITH AFSCME. IT'S TIME TO MAKE A CHOICE. REPUBLICANS WILL PICK EDUCATION BUT WE'LL SEE WHAT OUR DEMOCRATIC COLLEAGUES DO.

Borg: YOU DON'T HAVE ANY CHOICE IN FUNDING WHAT THE GOVERNOR NEGOTIATES.

Rants: THE GOVERNOR NEGOTIATES AND THE CONTRACT HAS TO BE OFFERED -- OR EXCUSE ME, THE CONTRACT HAS TO BE HONORED. SO THE RAISES, THE MERIT STEPS, THE INSURANCE HAS TO BE HONORED. BUT WE CAN UNDERFUND IT AND THAT'S WHAT THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY HAS CHOSEN TO DO THE LAST THREE YEARS. AS A RESULT OF THAT, THAT'S CAUSED LAYOFFS. IF LAYOFFS ARE TO BE AVERTED THIS TIME AROUND, THEN BETWEEN THE GOVERNOR AND AFSCME IN OUR NEGOTIATION PROCESS -- AND THEY'RE HAVING THEIR SECOND ROUND THIS WEEKEND -- THEY'RE GOING TO HAVE TO REALIZE THAT WE DON'T HAVE THE MONEY. YOU KNOW, AFSCME HAS COME OUT AND ASKED FOR A 5-PERCENT INCREASE. WITH BENEFITS, THAT ACCOUNTS FOR $300 MILLION. WE CAN'T AFFORD IT. THE FACT IS WE CAN'T EVEN AFFORD A 1-PERCENT INCREASE IF WE'RE GOING TO HONOR OUR COMMITMENT TO K-12 EDUCATION. SO IF YOU WANT TO DO 4-PERCENT ALLOWABLE GROWTH AND IF IOWANS WANT -- ARE SUPPORTIVE OF THAT, WE'RE GOING TO HAVE TO DO SOMETHING IN TERMS OF COLLECTIVE BARGAINING. I WOULD HOPE THAT THE GOVERNOR AND AFSCME RECOGNIZE THAT AS THEY GO THROUGH THE COLLECTIVE BARGAINING PROCESS RIGHT NOW THAT WE CANNOT AFFORD TO DO BOTH. AND THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY WILL SIDE WITH EDUCATION BEFORE WE FULLY FUND A SALARY BILL.

Borg: FINAL QUICK QUESTION; WHEN ARE YOU MAKING YOUR VACATION PLANS?

Rants: WHEN ARE YOU GOING TO END THE SESSION? WELL, I'M GOING TO DUBUQUE THIS WEEKEND.

Borg: ARE YOU GOING TO BE OUT BY MAY?

Rants: I HOPE SO. MY WIFE'S BIRTHDAY IS IN MAY, AND I BETTER BE HOME FOR IT.

Borg: THAT'S IT. THANK YOU VERY MUCH FOR SPENDING TIME WITH US TODAY. A PROGRAM REMINDER: ON TUESDAY OF THIS WEEK, GOVERNOR TOM VILSACK DELIVERS HIS ANNUAL CONDITION OF STATE ADDRESS PROFILING HIS VISION FOR THE STATE AND POINTING LEGISLATORS TOWARD HIS PRIORITIES. IOWA PUBLIC TELEVISION WILL BE THERE FOR THAT SPEECH WITH LIVE COVERAGE FROM THE IOWA STATEHOUSE. THAT'S JANUARY 11, THIS TUESDAY MORNING AT 10:00, WITH A REBROADCAST THAT EVENING AT 6:30. I HOPE YOU'LL WATCH. THEN ON OUR NEXT EDITION OF 'IOWA PRESS,' WE'LL CONVENE STATEHOUSE JOURNALISTS RIGHT HERE TO DISCUSS THE FIRST WEEK OF THE LEGISLATIVE SESSION, INCLUDING THE GOVERNOR'S ADDRESS. SAME AIRTIMES FOR 'IOWA PRESS' NEXT WEEK: 7:30 FRIDAY; SUNDAY AT NOON. I'M DEAN BORG. THANKS FOR JOINING US TODAY. CAPTIONS BY: MIDWEST CAPTIONING DES MOINES, IOWA. FUNDING FOR THIS PROGRAM WAS PROVIDED BY 'FRIENDS,' THE IOWA PUBLIC TELEVISION FOUNDATION. BY THE IOWA BANKERS ASSOCIATION... FOR PERSONAL, BUSINESS, AND COMMERCIAL NEEDS, IOWA BANKS HELP IOWANS REACH THEIR FINANCIAL GOALS; BY THE ASSOCIATED GENERAL CONTRACTORS OF IOWA, THE PUBLIC'S PARTNER IN BUILDING IOWA'S HIGHWAY, BRIDGE, AND MUNICIPAL UTILITY INFRASTRUCTURE; AND BY CAPITOL RESOURCES, INC., LOCATED IN BROOKLYN, IOWA; AND BY NICOLE SCHLINGER AND ERIC LANGE INDIVIDUALLY, FUND-RAISING AND COMMUNICATION SERVICES FOR MAJOR CAMPAIGNS SINCE 1996.

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