Iowa Public Television

 

Michael Blouin

posted on October 31, 2005

Borg: ANOTHER HAT IN THE RING. THIS PAST WEEK MICHAEL BLOUIN MADE IT OFFICIAL. HE WANTS DEMOCRATS TO MAKE HIM THEIR CANDIDATE FOR GOVERNOR OF IOWA. WE'LL QUESTION MIKE BLOUIN ON THIS EDITION OF 'IOWA PRESS.'

FUNDING FOR 'IOWA PRESS' WAS PROVIDED BY 'FRIENDS,' THE IOWA PUBLIC TELEVISION FOUNDATION; AND BY THE IOWA BANKERS ASSOCIATION... FOR PERSONAL, BUSINESS, AND COMMERCIAL NEEDS, IOWA BANKS HELP IOWANS REACH THEIR FINANCIAL GOALS. ON STATEWIDE IOWA PUBLIC TELEVISION, THIS IS THE FRIDAY, OCTOBER 28 EDITION OF 'IOWA PRESS.' HERE IS DEAN BORG.

Borg: HOP-SCOTCHING ACROSS THE STATE AT VARIOUS AIRPORT NEWS CONFERENCES EARLIER THIS WEEK, MICHAEL BLOUIN SAID HE WANTS TO CONTINUE AND ENHANCE THE VILSACK ADMINISTRATION STYLE. BLOUIN, A DUBUQUE NATIVE, REPRESENTED THAT REGION OF THE STATE IN CONGRESS. HE'S AN EDUCATOR, LED BOTH THE CEDAR RAPIDS AND DES MOINES CHAMBERS OF COMMERCE, AND MOST RECENTLY DIRECTED IOWA'S DEPARTMENT OF ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT. MR. BLOUIN, WELCOME BACK TO 'IOWA PRESS.'

Blouin: DEAN, IT'S GREAT TO BE BACK. THANK YOU.

Borg: WELL, WE HAVEN'T HAD YOU ON AS A CANDIDATE RECENTLY. THAT'S BEEN SEVERAL YEARS AGO. THIS TIME AS A CANDIDATE.

Blouin: IT IS A NEW EXPERIENCE.

Borg: FOR A WHILE. ALSO WITH US HERE AT THE TABLE: 'DES MOINES REGISTER' POLITICAL COLUMNIST DAVID YEPSEN AND 'ASSOCIATED PRESS' SENIOR POLITICAL WRITER MIKE GLOVER.

Glover: MR. BLOUIN, AS DEAN MENTIONED, YOU'RE ON THE SHOW AS A CANDIDATE NOW, AND ONE OF THE THINGS WE LIKE TO DO ON A CANDIDATE SHOW IS GIVE THE CANDIDATES AN OPPORTUNITY TO MAKE THE CASE FOR THEIR CANDIDACY. WHAT'S THE CASE FOR MICHAEL BLOUIN BEING THE DEMOCRATIC NOMINEE FOR GOVERNOR?

Blouin: I BELIEVE IOWA IS FACED WITH A CHOICE ABOUT HOW WE WILL ENTER THE 21ST CENTURY: WHAT KIND OF SOCIETY WE'RE GOING TO HAVE; WHAT KIND OF ECONOMIC, EDUCATION, HEALTH CARE, AND QUALITY-OF-LIFE ENVIRONMENT WE WANT TO HAVE. WE'RE AT A CROSSROADS IN THAT RESPECT. I BELIEVE MY BACKGROUND LENDS ITSELF EXTREMELY WELL TO LEADING US INTO THAT FUTURE. I BELIEVE I CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE, AND THAT IS THE ONLY REASON ANYONE SHOULD SEEK PUBLIC OFFICE. THIS WASN'T AN EASY DECISION, BUT IT WAS BASED ON THE BELIEF THAT AT THIS STAGE IN TIME, SOMEONE WITH MY BACKGROUND, MY COLLABORATIVE ABILITIES, MY EXPERIENCE IN EDUCATION, AS WELL AS QUALITY-OF-LIFE AND ECONOMIC ISSUES, CAN HELP MAKE THIS A BETTER PLACE.

Yepsen: MR. BLOUIN, YOU HAVE CALLED YOURSELF PRO-LIFE. WHAT DOES THAT MEAN?

Blouin: I BELIEVE ALL PEOPLE ARE PRO-LIFE. I'VE NEVER MET ANYBODY WHO ISN'T. I START FROM THE PREMISE THAT I ACKNOWLEDGE THAT ROE V. WADE IS THE LAW OF THE LAND. I WANT TO CONCENTRATE ON MAKING LIFE BETTER FOR WOMEN AND CHILDREN SO THAT THE DEMAND AND NEED AND CAUSE OF ABORTION GRADUALLY DISAPPEARS. THAT'S WHAT IT MEANS. IT MEANS SPENDING MY ENERGIES TO TRY TO CREATE THE KIND OF ENVIRONMENT IN IOWA WHERE WOMEN HAVE ACCESS TO THE RIGHT KIND OF HEALTH CARE, WHERE WOMEN HAVE ACCESS TO JOBS -- QUALITY JOBS, EDUCATION, AND THE QUALITY KINDS OF OPPORTUNITIES THAT EVERY OTHER HUMAN BEING OUGHT TO HAVE ACCESS TO.

Yepsen: ALL RIGHT, MR. BLOUIN, YOU SAY THAT ROE V. WADE IS THE LAW OF THE LAND. THAT'S TRUE TODAY. WE'RE GETTING A NEW SUPREME COURT. IT MAY NOT BE TRUE IN TWO YEARS. WHAT RESTRICTIONS ON ABORTION WOULD GOVERNOR MIKE BLOUIN SIGN?

Blouin: I'M NOT GOING TO ENTER INTO SPECULATION, DAVID, ON SOMETHING THAT ISN'T GOING TO HAPPEN.

Yepsen: WELL, WAIT A MINUTE, EXCUSE ME. WHY NOT? WHY WON'T YOU ANSWER THAT QUESTION?

Blouin: BECAUSE ROE V. WADE HAS BEEN THE LAW OF THE LAND FOR 32 YEARS.

Yepsen: SIR, I JUST POINTED OUT WE'RE GETTING A NEW CHIEF JUSTICE; WE'RE GETTING A NEW MEMBER OF THE SUPREME COURT. THAT DECISION COULD EASILY BE OVERTURNED, AND A LOT OF DEMOCRATIC WOMEN ARE WORRIED ABOUT WHAT A GOVERNOR MIKE BLOUIN WOULD SIGN INTO LAW.

Blouin: SURE. AND I UNDERSTAND THEIR CONCERNS. I UNDERSTAND THE CONCERN OF PEOPLE ON ALL SIDES OF THIS ISSUE. AND THIS ISSUE IS NOT BLACK AND WHITE. AS I SAID, THE LAST TIME WE WERE ON HERE, THE OLDER I GET, THE GRAYER ISSUES LOOK TO ME. LIFE DOES THAT TO YOU. NOTHING HAS CHANGED IN TERMS OF THE MAKEUP OF THE SUPREME COURT WITH THE APPOINTMENT OF ROBERTS. HE HAS SAID THAT ROE V. WADE IS SETTLED LAW, AND HE MEANS IT. EVEN IF HE DOESN'T MEAN IT, HE HAS REPLACED ONE OF THE THREE JUSTICES, ONLY THREE OUT OF NINE WHO HAVE BEEN IN FAVOR OF OVERTURNING ROE V. WADE, SO THE COUNT DOESN'T CHANGE. AND THE LATEST NOMINEE THAT HAS SINCE WITHDRAWN HAS SOME REASON TO BELIEVE THAT SHE WOULD FOLLOW THE SANDRA DAY O'CONNOR APPROACH, WHICH WOULDN'T CHANGE THE VOTE AT ALL. TO ENTER INTO SPECULATION IN THAT KIND OF SCENARIO ACCOMPLISHES NOTHING. I CAN'T DO ANYTHING ABOUT THAT. I WANT TO CONCENTRATE ON WHAT I CAN.

Yepsen: DO YOU CONSIDER A FETUS TO BE A HUMAN BEING?

Blouin: YES, I DO. I CONSIDER IT TO BE A LIFE, AND I KNOW PEOPLE DON'T. I KNOW THERE ARE FOLKS WHO ARE DEEPLY COMMITTED, WHO BELIEVE IN THEIR FAITH JUST AS STRONGLY AS I DO, WHO DON'T HAVE THAT BELIEF. AND I ACCEPT THAT THAT'S A DIFFERENCE. I TRY TO CONCENTRATE, THOUGH, ON WHAT I CAN DO. AND WHAT I CAN DO IS TO TRY TO MAKE LIFE BETTER FOR WOMEN AND FOR CHILDREN SO THAT THE NEED DIMINISHES.

Glover: LET'S TALK A LITTLE BIT ABOUT THE SPECIFICS OF WHAT YOU CAN DO. LET'S ASSUME YOU'RE ANTIABORTION AND YOU WANT TO DO THINGS TO MAKE IT EASIER FOR WOMEN WHO GET PREGNANT. WHAT SORTS OF THINGS -- DO YOU GIVE TAX BREAKS FOR ADOPTION, SUBSIDIES FOR WOMEN WHO ARE LOW-INCOME WOMEN? WHAT ARE THE OPTIONS?

Blouin: THAT AND MUCH MORE. IT'S FUNDING PROPERLY THE WOMEN INFANT AND CHILDREN PROGRAM. IT'S FUNDING THE SHIP'S PROGRAM. IT'S CREATING PRENATAL HEALTH CARE OPTIONS FOR WOMEN. IT'S CREATING THE RIGHT KIND OF PREVENTATIVE MEASURE OF FUNDING AND INITIATIVES THAT REDUCE THE CIRCUMSTANCES THAT LEAD TO ABORTION. IT'S CREATING THE KIND OF SOCIETY WHERE WOMEN HAVE AN EQUAL CHANCE AT LIFE IN TERMS OF ALL OF THE ADVANTAGES THAT GO WITH IT AND THAT ALLOW THEM TO LOOK AT WHAT LIES AHEAD OF THEM WITH OPTIMISM, AS OPPOSED TO THE CIRCUMSTANCES WE'VE PUT SO MANY OF THEM IN.

Glover: SENATOR HILLARY CLINTON HAS STARTLED A FEW DEMOCRATS BY SAYING THAT DEMOCRATS OUGHT TO WORK WITH ANTIABORTION FORCES TO FIND WAYS TO REDUCE THE NUMBER OF ABORTIONS. HAS -- I GUESS MY QUESTION IS HAS THE DEBATE OVER PRO-CHOICE, ANTIABORTION, PRECLUDED A DISCUSSION OF EVERYTHING ELSE THAT CAN BE DONE.

Blouin: IT HAS ON OCCASION. THE POLARIZATION IS NOT HEALTHY. THERE ARE HUGE AREAS OF AGREEMENT BETWEEN PEOPLE ON ALL SPECTRUMS OF THIS ISSUE. AND SINCE THE EXTREMES HAVE POSITIONS THAT ARE PRETTY DEFINED BY LAW, BY COURT RULINGS, I'D RATHER CONCENTRATE, INSTEAD OF AT THE ENDS, ON THE AREA WHERE 80 PERCENT OF IOWANS ARE. LET'S DEAL WITH THINGS THAT WE CAN AFFECT. LET'S DEAL WITH THE THINGS THAT WE CAN DO. LET'S FIND AN AGENDA THAT WE CAN ALL AGREE ON THAT WILL REDUCE THE CIRCUMSTANCES THAT LEAD TO ABORTION.

Borg: I'D LIKE TO MOVE YOUR THINKING TO ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT, THE MOST RECENT RESPONSIBILITY YOU HAD IN STATE GOVERNMENT. WOULD YOU AT ALL -- THE BASIC QUESTION IS WOULD YOU AT ALL TWEAK OR MODIFY THE CURRENT VALUES FUND FOR ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT. THAT HAS BEEN THE CENTERPIECE OF GOVERNOR VILSACK'S ADMINISTRATION IN ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT, AND YOU ADMINISTERED. AND THE REASON I SAY THAT IS IT'S BECOMING A CAMPAIGN ISSUE, EVEN WITHIN YOUR OWN PARTY FOR THE NOMINATION. ED FALLON MOST VOCAL ON SAYING HE DOESN'T LIKE THE VALUES FUND. OTHERS SAY IT'S PICKING WINNERS AND LOSERS. OTHERS HAVE OTHER CRITICISMS OF IT. WOULD YOU THEN MODIFY -- RECOMMEND MODIFYING THE VALUES FUND?

Blouin: IT'S AMAZING HOW CRITICAL SOME PEOPLE CAN GET OVER THE MOST SUCCESSFUL IOWA FAMILY AND JOBS PROGRAM THE STATE HAS EVER SEEN. OPEN TO MODIFICATION? SURE. IS IT A PERFECT INSTRUMENT? NO. IN THE IDEAL WORLD, WE WOULDN'T HAVE ANY OF THIS, BUT WE LIVE IN AN INCREDIBLY COMPETITIVE WORLD. WHILE IOWANS DON'T LIKE GIVEAWAYS, WE DON'T LIKE LOSING EITHER. AND WE'VE GOT 49 OTHER STATES AND DOZENS OF COUNTRIES BEATING OUR BRAINS IN FOR OUR EMPLOYERS AND THE JOBS THAT OUR IOWANS NEED TO MAINTAIN A WAY OF LIFE. YOU NEED TO REMEMBER TOO THAT THIS BILL PASSED WITH OVERWHELMING BIPARTISAN SUPPORT IN BOTH HOUSES; 89 HOUSE MEMBERS --

Borg: BUT NOW IT'S HAD A TEST, AND IT'S HAD SOME CRITICISM.

Blouin: WELL, SURE IT HAS.

Borg: HOW WOULD YOU MODIFY IT, IF AT ALL?

Blouin: IF IT WERE ME, I WOULD REMOVE SOME OF THE TAX PROVISIONS THAT WERE ADDED AS A NECESSITY TO GARNER ENOUGH VOTES TO GET IT PASSED IN THE LEGISLATURE. BUT I DON'T THINK THERE ARE ENOUGH VOTES THERE NOW TO TAKE THAT AWAY. I WOULD PUT MORE MONEY INTO THE ENTREPRENEURIAL SIDE OF IT. OVER 20 PERCENT OF THE COMPANIES THAT HAVE BEEN HELPED IN THE LAST TWO AND A HALF YEARS ARE BRAND-NEW START-UP COMPANIES. THAT'S A GREAT START. AND IT IS A WORKING MODEL THAT WE NEED TO BUILD IN -- BUILD ON. WE NEED MORE HELP IN THE UNIVERSITIES IN THEIR TECH CENTERS AND THEIR RESEARCH AREAS TO HELP THEM MOVE THE TECHNOLOGY NOT JUST OUT OF THE CAMPUS BUT INTO IOWA SOIL. THERE'S NO TECHNOLOGY TRANSFER PROBLEM IN IOWA. THE PROBLEM COMES IN THE TRANSFER OUT OF THE STATE. WE NEED TO FIND WAYS FOR MORE OF IT TO STAY HERE. IS IT PICKING WINNERS AND LOSERS, AS SOME SAY? NOT IN THE WAY VENTURE CAPITALISTS DO. WE DON'T TAKE EQUITY POSITIONS. WE DON'T INVEST IN COMPANIES IN THAT SENSE. WE LEAVE THAT TO THE PRIVATE SECTOR. WE'RE THERE AS INCENTIVE MONEY TO CLOSE A DEAL, NOT THE FIRST MONEY BUT THE LAST MONEY TO MAKE THE PIECES COME TOGETHER SO THAT OUR IOWA PEOPLE CAN FIND THE KINDS OF JOBS THAT WILL KEEP THEM GAINFULLY EMPLOYED AND KEEP THEIR CHILDREN HERE IN THIS STATE.

Glover: MR. BLOUIN, JUST THIS PAST WEEK, YOU CAME UNDER CRITICISM FROM REPUBLICAN CANDIDATE JIM NUSSLE WHO SAID YOU ARE RUNNING AWAY FROM YOUR RECORD AS ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT DIRECTOR. I'D LIKE TO KNOW WHAT'S GOING ON HERE. WHY HAS A REPUBLICAN WHO HAS PRIMARY OPPOSITION PICKING OUT YOU WHO HAVE PRIMARY OPPOSITION BEFORE THE PRIMARY? WHAT'S GOING ON HERE?

Blouin: WELL, I THINK THAT'S QUITE A COMPLIMENT TO MY CAMPAIGN. I NOTICE THAT THE REPUBLICAN STATE CENTRAL COMMITTEE ALSO ISSUES A RELEASE EVERY TIME I DO SOMETHING, AND THEY DON'T DO THAT FOR THE OTHER CANDIDATES. I CONSIDER THAT A COMPLIMENT AND I THANK THEM FOR SINGLING ME OUT. I THINK THAT'S WHAT'S GOING ON. I THINK THEY'RE CONCERNED ABOUT WHAT I BRING TO THE TABLE IN THE GENERAL ELECTION, AND THAT'S PRETTY GRATIFYING. I DON'T HAVE NEAR THE NAME I.D. SOME OF THE OTHERS ON MY SIDE HAVE. BUT I THINK THEY'RE LOOKING AT THE CREDENTIALS THAT I BRING TO A GENERAL ELECTION, AND THEY WOULD JUST AS SOON NOT HAVE TO DEAL WITH THOSE CREDENTIALS.

Yepsen: MR. BLOUIN, MINIMUM WAGE. WHEN YOU WERE ON THIS PROGRAM IN SEPTEMBER OF 2001, YOU SAID RAISING THE MINIMUM WAGE IS 'AN IRRELEVANT ISSUE THAT THE ECONOMY HAS TAKEN CARE OF.' DO YOU STILL BELIEVE THE MINIMUM WAGE IN IOWA SHOULD NOT BE RAISED?

Blouin: I NEVER SAID THAT. I SAID IT WAS AN IRRELEVANT ISSUE, AND THAT WAS NOT THE BEST CHOICE IN WORDS. WHEN I WAS A FRESHMAN IN THE LEGISLATURE, I INTRODUCED A BILL TO CREATE A MINIMUM WAGE. IOWA DIDN'T HAVE ONE BACK THEN.

Yepsen: WELL, WHERE ARE YOU TODAY?

Blouin: I TRIED TO SET IT AT A DOLLAR AN HOUR AND WAS CALLED A SOCIALIST FOR IT. IT EVENTUALLY BECAME LAW, NOT MY BILL BUT SUBSEQUENT EFFORTS BECAME LAW. IT HASN'T BEEN RAISED IN FIFTEEN YEARS. IT'S THE ONLY SEGMENT OF THE IOWA POPULATION THAT'S BEEN ASKED, FOR FIFTEEN YEARS, TO SIT AT THE SAME INCOME. OF COURSE IT NEEDS TO BE RAISED. IT WILL HELP THIS ECONOMY AMONG THOSE PEOPLE WHO NEED IT MOST.

Yepsen: WHAT DO YOU SAY TO THE CRITICISM THAT YOU FLIP-FLOPPED ON THIS, THAT WHEN YOU WERE HEAD OF THE CHAMBER OF COMMERCE, YOU WEREN'T REAL KEEN ABOUT RAISING THE MINIMUM WAGE AND NOW THAT YOU'RE RUNNING FOR THE DEMOCRATIC NOMINATION FOR GOVERNOR AND NEED THE SUPPORT OF ORGANIZED LABOR, YOU'RE FOR IT?

Blouin: I'VE NEVER FLIP-FLOPPED ON IT, DAVID. I SAID WHEN I WAS A FRESHMAN IN THE LEGISLATURE, I INTRODUCED A BILL TO CREATE ONE. WHEN I WAS IN CONGRESS, I WAS PART OF A GROUP THAT LED TO A MAJOR INCREASE, SO MUCH SO THAT I RECEIVED A LETTER FROM THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES IN ONE OF THE PENS USED TO SIGN IT INTO LAW. I'VE ALWAYS WORKED IN FAVOR OF INCREASING WAGES AMONG THOSE LEAST FORTUNATE. AND, HONESTLY, FOLKS ON MINIMUM WAGE ARE BELOW THE LEAST FORTUNATE THRESHOLD. TO ASK ANYBODY TO LIVE ON THAT KIND OF INCOME AND EXPECT IT TO BE GOOD IS IGNORING THE REALITIES OF LIFE.

Glover: MR. BLOUIN, GOVERNOR VILSACK HAS MADE EDUCATION ONE OF HIS TOP PRIORITIES. EVERYBODY RUNNING FOR GOVERNOR SAYS THAT EDUCATION IS THEIR TOP PRIORITY. IF ELECTED GOVERNOR, WHAT WOULD YOU DO SPECIFICALLY TO HELP IOWA EDUCATION?

Blouin: I'D TAKE MY CLASSROOM EXPERIENCE AS A FIFTH GRADE TEACHER AND MY COMMUNITY COLLEGE EXPERIENCE OF SIX YEARS IN ADMINISTRATION AND PUT IT TO WORK. EARLY CHILDHOOD EDUCATION IS ABSOLUTELY CRITICAL TO THE FUTURE OF THIS STATE. THERE'S NO WAY THAT YOU CAN DENY THE DATA. WE HAVE AMONG THE HIGHEST PERCENTS OF YOUNG KIDS, PRESCHOOLERS IN DAY CARE, OF ANY STATE IN AMERICA. IT'S BROUGHT ON BY THE HIGHEST PERCENTAGE OF TWO-INCOME EARNERS IN A FAMILY AND SINGLE PARENTS WHO HAVE TO WORK OUT OF NECESSITY. WHILE THOSE KIDS ARE SITTING IN DAY CARE, THEIR MINDS ARE MOST OPEN. THEY'RE LIKE SPONGES IN TERMS OF THEIR ABILITY TO ABSORB KNOWLEDGE. WHY NOT HELP THEM LEARN SOME OF THE BASIC TOOLS SO THAT WHEN THEY HIT KINDERGARTEN, THEY'RE MORE EQUIPPED MORE EQUALLY TO BE GOOD STUDENTS, K-12? I USED TO BE ABLE TO TELL BY NOON, AS A FIFTH GRADE TEACHER, WHO IN OUR CLASS WAS SO FAR BEHIND THEY WOULDN'T CATCH UP. I USED TO KNOW BY NOON WHO THE KIDS WERE THAT DIDN'T HAVE BREAKFAST BECAUSE THEY COULDN'T AFFORD IT. YOU COULD TELL IN THE WAY THEY FUNCTIONED. I TALKED TO FIRST GRADE TEACHERS, AND THEY KNEW THE SAME THING. AND THERE WAS ABSOLUTELY NOTHING WE COULD DO ABOUT IT.

Glover: MORE MONEY --

Blouin: EARLY CHILDHOOD MAKES THAT HAPPEN.

Glover: AND MORE MONEY FOR TEACHER PAY?

Blouin: MORE MONEY FOR TEACHER PAY. I KNOW TEACHERS IN NORTHERN IOWA WHO DRIVE TO MINNESOTA EVERY DAY TO TEACH BECAUSE THEY MAKE $16,000 A YEAR MORE. IT HAS TO GET UP TO THE NATIONAL AVERAGE. CAN WE GET THERE TOMORROW? NO, I DON'T THINK WE CAN CREATE FALSE HOPE. BUT WE CAN PUT A PLAN IN PLACE THAT BRINGS IT UP IN STEPS AND GIVES PEOPLE THE REASON TO BELIEVE THAT THEY'LL GET THERE. WE NEED SCIENCE AND MATH ENHANCEMENTS INTO OUR CURRICULUM AS WELL. IF WE'RE GOING TO CREATE THESE JOBS OF THE 21ST CENTURY, WE HAVE TO CREATE THE EDUCATIONAL SYSTEM THAT ALLOWS OUR YOUNG PEOPLE TO COMPETE FOR THOSE JOBS. THEY ARE EQUALLY AS IMPORTANT.

Yepsen: MR. BLOUIN, WE'VE GOT TOO MANY ISSUES AND NOT ENOUGH TIME. ANOTHER ONE IS TAX REFORM. WHAT WOULD GOVERNOR MIKE BLOUIN DO TO CHANGE IOWA'S TAX SYSTEM?

Blouin: THE ACHILLES' HEEL IN OUR TAX SYSTEM IS PROPERTY TAXES. I ACKNOWLEDGE THAT, AS DOES EVERYBODY WHO EVER RUNS FOR OFFICE. THE TROUBLE IS YOU CAN'T FIX THE WEAKNESSES IN OUR PROPERTY TAX SYSTEM IN A VACUUM. I THINK IT HAS TO BE PART OF A COMPREHENSIVE TAX PLAN THAT IS AS CLOSE TO REVENUE NEUTRAL AS YOU CAN MAKE IT. THAT INCLUDES PROPERTY AND SALES AND INCOME TAX REFORM. AND THAT'S DONE WITH THE COMMITMENT FROM THE LEGISLATORS AND THE GOVERNOR'S OFFICE THAT WE WILL DO IT IN THE FIRST YEAR OF A BIENNIUM SO THAT --

Glover: DO YOU ELIMINATE FEDERAL --

Blouin: -- YOU TAKE AS MUCH POLITICS OUT OF IT AS POSSIBLE.

Glover: DO YOU ELIMINATE FEDERAL DEDUCTIBILITY?

Blouin: I THINK IT'S SOMETHING THAT DEFINITELY SHOULD BE ON THE TABLE. I'VE ALWAYS BELIEVED THAT FEDERAL DEDUCTIBILITY IS A PROBLEM IN OUR ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT SIDE. IF FOR NO OTHER REASON, IT SHOULD BE REMOVED. IF YOU HAVE TO EXPLAIN A COMPLICATED TAX FORMULA TO SOMEBODY, IF YOU HAVE TO EXPLAIN AWAY A HIGH TAX LEVEL, YOU'VE LOST THE BATTLE. AND WE HAVE TO DO THAT TOO OFTEN TO TOO MANY PEOPLE.

Borg: ANOTHER ISSUE, THE ENVIRONMENT. ARE YOU SATISFIED WITH GOVERNOR VILSACK'S LEADERSHIP ON ENVIRONMENTAL ISSUES? WHAT WOULD YOU DO TO, IN YOUR WORD, ENHANCE.

Blouin: OUR WATER IS CRITICAL TO US. WE HAVE TOO MANY WATERWAYS THAT ARE IMPAIRED. I THINK WE NEED A SIZABLE, LONG-TERM COMMITMENT THAT WILL, OVER A PERIOD OF A GENERATION, CLEAN OUR WATERS, DEAL WITH POINT AND NONPOINT SOURCE POLLUTION, AND CREATE THE KIND OF HELP FROM WITHIN THE DNR THAT WILL GRADUALLY ERADICATE THE PROBLEM THROUGH ASSISTANCE AND ENFORCEMENT WHEN NECESSARY.

Borg: AND HOW WOULD YOU PAY FOR IT?

Blouin: THAT'S SOMETHING THAT WE'VE GOT TO WORK OUT. I THINK YOU'RE PROBABLY, OVER TWENTY YEARS, DEAN, LOOKING AT A BILLION-DOLLAR PROGRAM. AND WE NEED TO FIND ROOM IN OUR BUDGET TO WORK OURSELVES UP TO THAT LEVEL AND MAINTAIN IT LONG ENOUGH TO SAVE WHAT IS AN INCREDIBLE RESOURCE. YOU KNOW, THE REAL ISSUE HERE IS NEIGHBORS, BEING NEIGHBORS WITH EACH OTHER. THAT USED TO BE THE HEART AND SOUL OF IOWA, AND WE'RE GETTING AWAY FROM IT. IF WE CAN FIND WAYS TO LOOK AT OUR ENVIRONMENTAL ISSUES FROM THE PERSPECTIVE OF GOOD NEIGHBORS, URBAN AND RURAL ALIKE, I THINK WE CAN FIND A WAY TO SOLVE THE PROBLEM.

Glover: MR. BLOUIN, THERE ARE A NUMBER OF SOCIAL ISSUES THAT GET A LOT OF PEOPLE REAL EXCITED BUT CAN BE DEALT WITH WITH A YES-OR-NO ANSWER. LET'S GO THROUGH --

Blouin: PROBABLE NOT, BUT GO AHEAD.

Glover: DO YOU FAVOR THE DEATH SENTENCE?

Blouin: WE HAVE THE DEATH SENTENCE IN IOWA. IT'S CALLED LIFE IMPRISONMENT WITHOUT THE POSSIBILITY OF PAROLE.

Glover: SO THE ANSWER IS NO.

Blouin: IT IS YOU'RE GOING TO DIE THERE. IT IS CHEAPER EVERY TIME AND IT IS CORRECTIBLE IF WE'RE WRONG.

Glover: SO THE ANSWER IS NO.

Blouin: WE HAVE IT. IT'S REDUNDANT. YEAH.

Glover: GAY MARRIAGE, DO YOU SUPPORT IT OR OPPOSE IT?

Blouin: I LOOK AT IOWA AS THE KIND OF MODEL COMMUNITY THAT EVERY HUMAN BEING SHOULD BE ABLE TO LIVE IN WITHOUT DISCRIMINATION. OUR MARRIAGE LAWS ARE FINE. I DON'T BELIEVE IN GUMMING UP OUR CONSTITUTION WITH REDUNDANT STATEMENTS THAT BASTARDIZE THE CONSTITUTIONAL PROCESS, IN MY ESTIMATION. I THEY WE LEAVE THAT ALONE AND DEAL WITH PEOPLE'S HUMAN RIGHTS.

Glover: GAMBLING? SHOULD WE ELIMINATE GAMBLING AS A LEGAL INDUSTRY, LEAVE IT THE WAY IT IS, OR EXPAND IT?

Blouin: I'D BE A HYPOCRITE IF I SAID ELIMINATE IT. I ENJOY --

Glover: I WAS GOING TO SAY YOU USE A LOT OF IT IN THE VALUES FUND.

Blouin: I ENJOY IT AS MUCH AS ANYBODY, AND WE'VE USED IT IN THE VISION IOWA PROGRAM TO BEGIN TO REBUILD THE STRUCTURES OF OUR COMMUNITIES IN AN INCREDIBLY SUCCESSFUL WAY. IT'S BEEN AN AMAZING RESOURCE. IT'S NOT THE BEGIN ALL AND THE END ALL OF ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT IN IOWA, BUT IT HAS HELPED TREMENDOUSLY. AND TO THINK THAT YOU CAN PULL THE PLUG ON IT IS REALLY FOOL'S FOLLY.

Glover: WHAT DO YOU SAY ABOUT THE SOCIAL PROBLEMS THAT CRITICS RAISE?

Blouin: WE PAY FOR IT. WE SHOULD PUT MORE MONEY ASIDE TO PAY FOR THOSE WHO HAVE PROBLEMS WITH IT. WE HAVE PROBLEM DRINKERS. WE DON'T ELIMINATE ALCOHOL. WE HAD THAT FIGHT BACK IN THE EARLY PART OF THE LAST CENTURY. YOU DON'T PULL THE PLUG BECAUSE SOME PEOPLE DRIVE WRONG. YOU FIND A WAY TO DEAL WITH IT. YOU DON'T ELIMINATE ALCOHOL BECAUSE SOME PEOPLE HAVE PROBLEMS WITH IT. YOU DEAL WITH IT. WE NEED TO DO THE SAME THING ON THE GAMBLING SIDE.

Yepsen: MR. BLOUIN, I WANT TO GO BACK TO ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT FOR A MINUTE. ONE OF THE CRITICISMS THAT'S MADE OF THE VALUES FUND IS IT DOESN'T DO ENOUGH FOR RURAL IOWA. NOW, I KNOW YOU THINK IT DOES. BUT NEVERTHELESS, THERE IS A SENSE IN IOWA -- AND YOU KNOW THIS -- THAT THE LARGER COMMUNITIES ARE DOING PRETTY WELL. DES MOINES IS DOING PRETTY WELL, WEST DES MOINES, DUBUQUE. LOOK AROUND; THESE TOWNS ARE COOKING. BUT YOU GET IN THE SMALLER COMMUNITIES, SOME OF THE COUNTY SEAT TOWNS, RURAL PARTS OF THE STATE, THEY'RE NOT DOING SO WELL AND PEOPLE IN THOSE COMMUNITIES ARE LOOKING TO THE STATE FOR HELP. WHAT WOULD YOU DO TO HELP RURAL IOWA GROW?

Blouin: WE NEED AN IOWA THAT LEAVES NO COUNTY, TOWN, OR IOWAN BEHIND.

Yepsen: SOUNDS GOOD. HOW DO YOU DO IT?

Blouin: THAT DOESN'T MEAN YOU PEANUT BUTTER A PROGRAM BECAUSE YOU CAN'T FORCE COMPANIES TO GO ONE PLACE OR ANOTHER. IT DOES MEAN THAT YOU LISTEN TO FOLKS SOUTH OF DES MOINES, THE SOUTHERN TWO TIERS OF COUNTIES, THE WESTERN PARTS OF THE STATE, THOSE THAT HAVEN'T HAD ANYWHERE NEAR THE SUCCESS. AND YOU CREATE THE KINDS OF PROGRAMS THAT RESPOND TO WHAT THEY BELIEVE THEY NEED. WE TRIED TO DO THAT THREE YEARS AGO IN THE FIRST VALUES FUND PROGRAM. THERE WAS A BILL PASSED -- OR PART OF THE BILL THAT WAS PASSED IN THE HOUSE UNDER CLARENCE HOFFMAN'S LEADERSHIP CREATED ZONES -- REGIONS THAT GAVE EXTRA INCENTIVES TO THOSE PARTS OF THE STATE WHO NEED IT MOST. I THINK WE NEED TO GO BACK TO THAT AND CREATE A FORMULA THAT REALLY DOES PROVIDE THE OPPORTUNITIES FOR THOSE PARTS OF IOWA TO HAVE HALF A CHANCE TO PLAY ON A LEVEL PLAYING FIELD. WE STARTED IT A LITTLE BIT WITHOUT THE MONEY, TO SPEAK OF, IN THE PAST YEAR WHEN WE CREATED COLLABORATIVE MARKETING EFFORTS AND WE GOT OVER 57 COUNTIES WORKING TOGETHER TO SELL THEIR AREAS AS IF THEY WERE ONE. WE PUT BUSINESS ACCELERATORS OUT IN THE DIFFERENT PARTS OF THE STATE. SOME OF THAT MONEY FROM THE VALUES FUND HAS GONE TO RETRAINING ACTIVITIES IN EVERY PART OF IOWA. SOME OF IT HAS GONE TO CULTURAL ENHANCEMENTS AND ENDOW IOWA EFFORTS. NOT ALL OF THAT MONEY HAS GONE INTO INCENTIVES. IT'S GONE INTO DEVELOPING THE KIND OF FORMULA THAT YOU'RE TALKING ABOUT, AND WE NEED TO DO A LOT MORE OF IT.

Glover: LET'S TURN DAVE'S QUESTION ON ITS EAR FOR JUST A SECOND. IS THERE -- SHOULD WE DO STRUCTURAL CHANGES IN RURAL IOWA? DO WE HAVE TOO MANY COUNTIES, TOO MANY TOWNS, TOO MANY LEVELS OF GOVERNMENT, TOO MUCH GOVERNMENT? DO WE NEED TO RESTRUCTURE?

Blouin: IOWANS DON'T FORCE-FEED REAL WELL. WE DON'T OPEN UP AND SAY AHH TOO OFTEN. WE HAVE NEVER BEEN ABLE TO MAKE MANDATORY CHANGES OF THAT NATURE WORK. IT SEEMS TO ME WHAT YOU DO IS YOU GIVE LOCAL COMMUNITIES THE TOOLS THEY NEED TO GET CREATIVE AND GET OUTSIDE THE BOXES THEMSELVES. WE'VE GOT SO MANY CODIFIED AND IN SOME CASES CONSTITUTIONAL BARRIERS TO CREATIVITY ON THE LOCAL LEVEL THAT IT ACTUALLY INHIBITS AND CHILLS THEIR DESIRES TO WANT TO BE BETTER. EVERY TOWN IN IOWA KNOWS THEY'VE GOT TO TRANSFORM THEIR WAY OF THINKING. I DON'T CARE IF THEY'RE DES MOINES OR THE SMALLEST TOWN ON THE MAP. THEY KNOW THEY'VE GOT TO FIND WAYS TO GET CREATIVE. THEY JUST WANT TO FIGURE OUT HOW TO DO IT THEMSELVES, AND THEY WANT IOWA TO HELP THEM, NOT TO BROWBEAT THEM. AND IT'S A MATTER OF HOW YOU GO ABOUT IT: WORKING WITH THEM; BRINGING THEM TO THE TABLE AND LET THEM, MIKE, TELL YOU HOW THIS NEEDS TO BE DONE; AND THEN TRUST THEM TO DO IT.

Yepsen: MR. BLOUIN, WE'VE ONLY GOT A FEW MINUTES LEFT. WE ALWAYS LIKE TO TALK SOME POLITICS ON THIS PROGRAM. HOW DO DEMOCRATIC CANDIDATES -- HOW DO YOU CHART A VISION FOR IOWA TO CORRECT OUR PROBLEMS WITHOUT IMPLICITLY CRITICIZING GOVERNOR VILSACK? I KNOW THAT SOME OF GOVERNOR VILSACK'S PEOPLE ARE UNHAPPY ALREADY WITH SOME OF THE CRITICISMS THE DEMOCRATIC CANDIDATES ARE MAKING BECAUSE IT MAKES HIM LOOK BAD WHEN HE'S OUT THERE TRYING TO RUN FOR PRESIDENT. HOW DO YOU STRIKE THAT BALANCE?

Blouin: YOU TALK ABOUT THE FUTURE. YOU TALK ABOUT THE VISION OF IOWA. YOU TALK ABOUT TAKING WHAT WE HAVE BEGUN AS A PEOPLE AND BRINGING IT TO ANOTHER LEVEL, ENHANCING WHAT'S STARTED. YOU TALK ABOUT THE THREE MILLION IOWANS WHO CALL THIS PLACE HOME AND ARE REALLY ONE FAMILY IN MANY RESPECTS. WE'RE SMALL ENOUGH TO SOLVE OUR PROBLEMS. THE ADVANTAGE OF BEING THREE MILLION PEOPLE IS WE CAN GET OUR ARMS AROUND OUR PROBLEMS. AND I DON'T THINK THAT SPEAKS POSITIVELY OR NEGATIVELY ABOUT TOM VILSACK AND SALLY PEDERSON OR ANYBODY ELSE. IT'S A STATEMENT OF FACT. I DON'T THINK YOU HAVE TO CRITICIZE PEOPLE. I DIDN'T THINK YOU HAVE TO BE NEGATIVE IN ORDER TO INSTILL VISION AND HOPE IN PEOPLE'S MINDS.

Yepsen: IS GOVERNOR VILSACK GOING TO ENDORSE YOU?

Blouin: I DON'T EXPECT HIM TO.

Yepsen: DO YOU WANT IT?

Blouin: IOWANS DON'T LIKE TO BE FORCE-FED. THEY DON'T LIKE TO BE TOLD WHO TO VOTE FOR EITHER.

Glover: MR. BLOUIN, I'D LIKE YOU TO BECOME DR. BLOUIN FOR A SECOND AND PULL OUT YOUR STETHOSCOPE AND LOOK AT THE REPUBLICAN PARTY THAT YOU HOPE TO RUN AGAINST. WE'VE ALL SEEN THE TROUBLES. PRESIDENT BUSH'S APPROVAL IS AT THE LOWEST LEVEL OF HIS PRESIDENCY. CONGRESSIONAL LEADERSHIP UNDER INVESTIGATION. RATINGS OF CONGRESS ARE IN THE TOILET. WHAT'S YOUR ASSESSMENT OF THE HEALTH OF THE REPUBLICAN PARTY?

Blouin: YOU KNOW, I'M NOT A REPUBLICAN AND IT'S AWFULLY TOUGH --

Glover: WELL, YOU'VE GOT TO RUN AGAINST ONE.

Blouin: -- FOR ME TO GIVE AN ASSESSMENT OF THEIR HEALTH. THE GOOD NEWS IS I THINK I HAVE A LOT OF MODERATE REPUBLICANS AND SOME PRETTY CONSERVATIVE ONES WHO ARE VERY COMFORTABLE WITH MIKE BLOUIN. WHAT THEY TELL ME IS, JUST AS DEMOCRATS AND INDEPENDENTS SAY, THEY'RE GETTING A LITTLE TIRED OF THE STRIDENT, DRAW-A-LINE-IN-THE-SAND PARTISAN FIGHTING. THEY WANT SOLUTIONS TO OUR PROBLEMS. THEY WANT PEOPLE TO FIND WAYS TO DEPARTISANIZE OUR FUTURE IN JOBS, IN EDUCATION, IN HEALTH CARE, AND QUALITY OF LIFE. IF WE COULD TAKE THOSE FOUR ISSUES AND TREAT THEM SOMEWHAT LIKE THE ROAD FUND -- IT'S AUTOMATIC; IT'S GOING TO HAPPEN; LET'S MOVE ON AND FIGHT ABOUT OTHER THINGS -- THIS STATE WOULD BE A WHOLE LOT BETTER OFF.

Yepsen: AND THERE ARE NO STRIDENT PEOPLE IN THE DEMOCRATIC PARTY?

Blouin: THEY'RE EVERYWHERE. THEY'RE EVERYWHERE.

Yepsen: WELL, WHAT DO YOU --

Blouin: HE ASKED ME TO ANALYZE THE REPUBLICAN PARTY.

Yepsen: I'M ASKING YOU TO TALK ABOUT THE DEMOCRATS.

Blouin: WE HAVE THE SAME PROBLEM, DAVID. WE GET A LITTLE TOO STRIDENT. WE GET CAUGHT UP IN OUR OWN FIRE. AND THAT'S GOOD. IT MOBILIZES THE BASE. IT GIVES FOLKS A REASON TO GET OUT OF THEIR HOUSE AND KNOCK ON DOORS AND DO THINGS. AND IT HAS ITS POSITIVES. IT ALSO HAS ITS NEGATIVES BECAUSE YOU'VE GOT TO LIVE WITH IT. ONE OF THE BIGGEST PROBLEMS WE HAVE IN THE LEGISLATURE IS ON JANUARY 1 WHEN THESE FOLKS START PACKING UP AND MOVING TO DES MOINES, THEY'RE CARRYING ALL OF THE ANGER AND PERSONAL ANGUISH WITH THEM THAT CAME FROM THAT ELECTION AND IT'S AWFULLY TOUGH TO GET ALONG.

Yepsen: WE'VE GOT JUST A FEW SECONDS LEFT. HOW BITTER DO YOU EXPECT THIS PRIMARY TO BE? IF YOU WIN THE DEMOCRATIC NOMINATION, WILL YOU HAVE A PARTY UNITY PROBLEM?

Blouin: I DON'T THINK SO. ONE OF THE FORUMS WE'VE BEEN AT, THAT QUESTION CAME UP A WEEK OR SO AGO. AND EVERYBODY IN THAT ROOM SAID THEY WOULD SUPPORT THE NOMINEE, WHOEVER THAT IS. AND I DON'T THINK WE'RE GOING TO HAVE A PROBLEM PULLING FOLKS TOGETHER. DEMOCRATS WANT TO KEEP THE GOVERNOR'S POSITION, AND WE'LL UNITE.

Borg: THANK YOU FOR TAKING TIME TO BE WITH US TODAY.

Blouin: THANK YOU, DEAN.

Borg: WELL, THAT'S IT FOR THIS WEEK'S EDITION OF 'IOWA PRESS.' I HOPE YOU'LL PLAN TO WATCH NEXT WEEKEND, REGULAR 'IOWA PRESS' AIRTIMES: 7:30 FRIDAY, SUNDAY AT NOON. I'M DEAN BORG. THANKS FOR JOINING US TODAY.

FUNDING FOR 'IOWA PRESS' WAS PROVIDED BY 'FRIENDS,' THE IOWA PUBLIC TELEVISION FOUNDATION; AND BY THE IOWA BANKERS ASSOCIATION... FOR PERSONAL, BUSINESS, AND COMMERCIAL NEEDS, IOWA BANKS HELP IOWANS REACH THEIR FINANCIAL GOALS.

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