Iowa Public Television

 

Congressman Jim Nussle

posted on January 26, 2006

Borg: A REPUBLICAN REPRESENTING EASTERN IOWA IN CONGRESS WANTS TO GOVERN THE STATE. WE'LL QUESTION IOWA'S FIRST DISTRICT CONGRESSMAN, JIM NUSSLE, 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 20 EDITION OF "IOWA PRESS." HERE IS DEAN BORG.

Borg: AFTER SIXTEEN YEARS IN CONGRESS, REPUBLICAN JIM NUSSLE WANTS TO RETURN TO THE IOWA STATEHOUSE. HIS PRIOR EXPERIENCE THERE WAS WHILE ATTENDING DRAKE UNIVERSITY LAW SCHOOL. HE WAS AN INTERN ON THE STAFF OF THEN-GOVERNOR TERRI BRANSTAD. IN 1986 MR. NUSSLE WAS ELECTED DELAWARE COUNTY ATTORNEY OVER IN EASTERN IOWA AND SERVED AS A VOLUNTEER FIREMAN IN HIS HOMETOWN OF MANCHESTER. HE WAS ELECTED TO CONGRESS IN 1991, INITIALLY SERVING DURING SO-CALLED REPUBLICAN REVOLUTION LED BY CONGRESSMAN NEWT GINGRICH. MR. NUSSLE CURRENTLY CHAIRS THE INFLUENTIAL HOUSE BUDGET COMMITTEE. HIS FIRST TASK IN RETURNING TO THE IOWA STATEHOUSE IS THE JUNE 6 PRIMARY ELECTION. MR. NUSSLE AND BOB VANDER PLAATS OF SIOUX CITY ARE CONTENDING TO BE THE REPUBLICAN PARTY'S NOMINEE FOR GOVERNOR IN THE NOVEMBER GENERAL ELECTIONS. MR. NUSSLE, WELCOME BACK TO "IOWA PRESS."

Nussle: GREAT TO BE BACK. THANK YOU.

Borg: THANK YOU. AND ACROSS THE TABLE, TWO GENTLEMEN YOU KNOW WELL: "DES MOINES REGISTER" POLITICAL COLUMNIST DAVID YEPSEN AND "ASSOCIATED PRESS" SENIOR POLITICAL WRITER MIKE GLOVER.

Glover: CONGRESSMAN, ONE OF THE THINGS WE LIKE TO DO WITH CANDIDATES ON THIS SHOW IS GIVE THEM A CHANCE TO MAKE THEIR CASE AT THE TOP. SO MAKE THE CASE FOR JIM NUSSLE FOR GOVERNOR. WHAT'S THE COMMERCIAL FOR JIM NUSSLE?

Nussle: WELL, LISTENING TO IOWANS, THEY TELL ME THEY WANT BOLD, INNOVATIVE, EXPERIENCED LEADERSHIP TO LEAD IOWA. HAVING THE CHANCE TO TALK TO THEM, I'VE TALKED TO PEOPLE WHO TELL ME THEY WANT A LEADER WHO IS WILLING TO WORK FOR PARENTS TO GET A MUCH BETTER EDUCATION SYSTEM. I WANT TO LEAD TO MAKE IOWA'S EDUCATION SYSTEM WORLD CLASS. I WANT TO LEAD IOWA TO MAKE SURE THAT THAT ENTREPRENEUR CAN CREATE JOBS HERE IN OUR STATE, AS OPPOSED TO FEELING AS THOUGH THEY'RE NOT COMPETITIVE, VERSUS THE STATES AROUND US. I WANT TO LEAD IOWA FOR THAT YOUNG PERSON I MET IN NEWTON WHO HAD HER BAGS PACKED AND WAS READY TO MOVE TO DALLAS TO FIND A JOB IN HER CAREER FIELD. I WANT TO LEAD IOWA FOR SO MANY PEOPLE I'VE MET WHO ARE REALLY TIRED OF THE PANDERING BIG-GOVERNMENT SOLUTIONS TO SOME OF THE CHALLENGES WE FACE. I'LL GIVE YOU AN EXAMPLE. PRESCHOOL, PEOPLE ARE TALKING ABOUT THE NEED FOR INCREASES AND EXPANSION OF PRESCHOOL. BUT THE QUESTION TO ME IS WHO SHOULD RUN IT. I THINK PARENTS SHOULD RUN IT AND NOT GOVERNMENT. I WANT TO EXPAND THE TUITION TAX CREDIT TO $1,500 SO THAT PARENTS CAN MAKE THE DECISIONS ABOUT WHERE TO SEND THEIR KIDS TO PRESCHOOL AND LET PARENTS RUN THE SYSTEM, NOT BIG GOVERNMENT.

Yepsen: CONGRESSMAN, HELP A REPUBLICAN OUT. YOU'RE RUNNING AGAINST BOB VANDER PLAATS, AS DEAN BORG MENTIONED. WHY YOU OVER VANDER PLAATS FOR THE REPUBLICAN NOMINATION?

Nussle: WELL, FIRST OF ALL, I BELIEVE THAT REPUBLICANS WANT TO WIN. THEY WANT TO WIN THIS TIME PROBABLY WORSE THAN ANY OTHER TIME, BECAUSE THEY KNOW WHAT IT'S LIKE TO HAVE THE LEGISLATURE, TO HAVE GOOD POLICIES AND IDEAS, AND THEN TO SEE THEM BASICALLY VETOED OR STOPPED BY THIS GOVERNOR. THEY WANT SOMEONE WHO IS WILLING TO GET RESULTS FOR THE STATE AND HAS SOME EXPERIENCE IN ACTUALLY ACCOMPLISHING THAT, AND I'VE DONE THAT IN THE UNITED STATES CONGRESS ON BEHALF OF IOWA AND CERTAINLY ON BEHALF OF ALL IOWANS, NOT JUST REPUBLICANS. BUT ALSO, THEY WANT SOMEONE WHO HAS GOOD, STRONG CONSERVATIVE VALUES, SOMEONE WHO ISN'T JUST GOING TO TURN TO GOVERNMENT FOR THE SOLUTIONS BUT RECOGNIZES, FOR INSTANCE, IN PRESCHOOL, THAT PARENTS OUGHT TO BE MAKING THAT DECISION. NOT JUST MORE GOVERNMENT BUREAUCRACY AND HIGHER TAXES IS THE SOLUTION.

Glover: AND BOB VANDER PLAATS DOESN'T HAVE THOSE QUALITIES?

Nussle: WELL, I'M RUNNING BECAUSE I WANT TO LEAD IOWA, NOT BECAUSE I'M RUNNING AGAINST SOMEBODY ELSE. HE'S A GOOD MAN. I HAVING NOTHING AGAINST HIM. BUT I THINK WHAT REPUBLICANS HAVE SEEN IS THAT WE HAVEN'T PUT A TEAM TOGETHER OVER THE LAST NUMBER OF CYCLES SINCE TERRI BRANSTAD, WHO WAS THE LAST BRAND-NEW REPUBLICAN TO RUN AND WIN A MAJOR STATEWIDE OFFICE FOR THE REPUBLICAN PARTY. THEY NEED SOMEONE WHO CAN APPEAL TO INDEPENDENT VOTERS AND DEMOCRAT VOTERS, PARTICULARLY THE ONES THAT I'VE BEEN APPEALING TO IN EASTERN IOWA. AND I THINK THAT'S THE BIG DIFFERENCE.

Borg: IF YOU ARE ELECTED NEXT FALL, GOVERNOR, THERE IS AN ISSUE THAT HAS POPPED UP RIGHT NOW CONCERNING VIDEO LOTTERY GAMES THAT MAY STILL BE AROUND WITH FISCAL AND LEGAL QUESTIONS IF YOU WERE TO BE GOVERNOR. HOW DO YOU FEEL? YOU'VE RESEARCHED THAT ISSUE. YOU'VE SPOKEN ABOUT IT. HOW DO YOU FEEL NOW THAT YOU'VE HEARD FROM ED STANEK?

Nussle: I HOPE THAT THEY'RE NOT GOING TO BE AROUND BY NEXT YEAR WHEN THE NEXT GOVERNOR TAKES OFFICE, BECAUSE IF IT DOES, WE'VE GOT A BIGGER PROBLEM THAN WE DO IF WE TAKE CARE OF IT RIGHT NOW. I BELIEVE THIS IS ABOUT THE KIND OF REPUTATION IOWA HAS, AS A REPUTATION FOR RAISING FAMILIES. AND I DON'T THINK WHEN YOU GO IN TO BY A GALLON OF MILK IN A CONVENIENCE STORE IT OUGHT TO LOOK LIKE A CASINO. AND I'VE DONE THAT. I DON'T KNOW ABOUT YOU, BUT I'VE WALKED IN AND SEEN PEOPLE HUDDLED AROUND THIS IN SOME SMALL TOWN. AND YOU'VE GOT TO THINK TO YOURSELF, THESE ARE PEOPLE WHO PROBABLY SHOULDN'T BE THERE SPENDING EITHER THE AMOUNT OF TIME OR THE AMOUNT OF MONEY. I THINK WE OUGHT TO TAKE THEM OUT. I THINK WE OUGHT TO HAVE THE LEGISLATURE INVESTIGATE EXACTLY HOW THIS CAME INTO BEING. THESE ARE SLOT MACHINES. THESE ARE NOT VIDEO LOTTERY MACHINES. THE OUTSIDE IS A SLOT MACHINE. THE INSIDE MAY LOOK LIKE A LOTTERY, BUT THE OUTSIDE IS CLEARLY A CASINO SLOT MACHINE, AND I DON'T THINK THAT'S GOOD FOR IOWA'S REPUTATION.

Glover: WHERE DO YOU GET THE $50 MILLION TO REPLACE THE PROFITS THE STATE WILL LOSE?

Nussle: YOU START BY NOT GETTING THE $50 MILLION IN THE FIRST PLACE. YOU KNOW, TO TALK ABOUT PROFITS THAT THE STATE WILL GAIN FROM GAMBLING, WHICH IS AN ADDICTION THAT I BELIEVE OUR STATE OFFICERS AND OUR STATE LEADERS HAVE REALLY BEEN ADDICTED TO FOR SO LONG NOW, TO EXPAND THAT -- CONTINUE TO EXPAND IT AND TO SET THIS UP AS AN ISSUE, WELL, NOW WE'RE NOT GOING TO REALIZE THAT MONEY, SO NOW I'VE GOT TO FIGURE OUT WHERE IT OUGHT TO COME FROM. LET'S STOP IT BEFORE WE EVEN GET THAT REVENUE IN THE FIRST PLACE AND LEAVE IT IN THE POCKETS OF THESE PEOPLE.

Glover: YOUR RESUME INCLUDES A SIXTEEN-YEAR VETERAN OF CONGRESS. THERE ARE THOSE WHO SAY THAT'S NOT A GREAT RESUME IN THIS PARTICULAR YEAR. THE MAJORITY LEADER OF THE HOUSE, TOM DELAY, WAS INDICTED. SENATOR BILL FRIST IS UNDER INVESTIGATION. THE CHIEF OF STAFF OF THE VICE PRESIDENT IS UNDER INDICTMENT. HOW DO YOU DEAL WITH THE ETHICAL PROBLEMS THAT ARE GRIPPING CONGRESS THIS YEAR?

Nussle: WELL, THE WAY I DEAL WITH THEM IS FULL DISCLOSURE. I MEAN JUST YESTERDAY AS AN EXAMPLE, I FILED MY DISCLOSURE FOR RUNNING FOR GOVERNOR AS AN EXAMPLE. I DID IT IN A TIMELY FASHION, WHICH NOT EVERYONE CAN ALWAYS SAY, AND I DID IT IN A VERY THOROUGH FASHION. I THINK THAT'S NUMBER ONE. NUMBER TWO, I THINK IT'S IMPORTANT TO RECOGNIZE MY RECORD IN CONGRESS. I'M ONE WHO LED THE FIGHT IN ETHICS INVOLVING THE HOUSE BANK SCANDAL AND POST OFFICE SCANDAL. SIX PEOPLE WENT TO PRISON AS A RESULT OF THE INVESTIGATION THAT I HELPED LAUNCH WHEN I WAS IN CONGRESS. THIS IS HORRIBLE BEHAVIOR. THEY OUGHT TO BE PROSECUTED. I'M NOT SOMEBODY WHO JUST BLAMES THE LOBBYISTS. THESE ARE MEMBERS OF CONGRESS WHO OUGHT TO BE BLAMED AND HELD ACCOUNTABLE FOR -- IF IN FACT THEY MISBEHAVED OR DID SOMETHING UNETHICAL, THEY SHOULD BE HELD ACCOUNTABLE. AND I THINK EVERY CONGRESSMAN PROBABLY BELIEVES THAT AND EVERY CITIZEN I TALK TO BELIEVES THAT.

Yepsen: ONE THING WE ALWAYS DO ON THIS PROGRAM WITH CANDIDATES, CONGRESSMAN, IS GIVE THEM A CHANCE TO RESPOND TO SOME OF THE NEGATIVES THAT ARE BEING SAID AND HURLED AT THEM. ONE OF THE THINGS, PLAYING OFF MIKE'S QUESTION, THAT YOU HEAR THE VANDER PLAATS PEOPLE TALKING ABOUT IS THAT THE REPUBLICAN PARTY, WHAT IT OFFERS MEMBERS OF CONGRESS FOR STATEWIDE OFFICE DOESN'T DO VERY WELL. YOU LOSE A LOT OF ELECTIONS. JIM ROSS LIGHTFOOT IS EXHIBIT "A" WHEN HE RAN FOR GOVERNOR. HOW DO YOU RESPOND TO THAT CONCERN THAT REPUBLICANS HAVE THAT, GIVEN THE LIABILITIES IN CONGRESS AND GIVEN THE TRACK RECORD OF REPUBLICAN CONGRESSMEN RUNNING FOR STATEWIDE OFFICE, THAT BY VOTING FOR YOU, THEY'RE VOTING FOR A LOSER?

Nussle: WELL, I HAVE ENORMOUS RESPECT FOR JIM ROSS LIGHTFOOT. I'M NOT JIM ROSS LIGHTFOOT. HE IS -- HE IS A GOOD MAN BUT I BELIEVE I HAVE A DIFFERENT RECORD OF EXPERIENCE, AS WELL AS A DIFFERENT RECORD AND ABILITY TO RUN FOR OFFICE. I RUN, AS YOU KNOW, IN A PRETTY TOUGH PART OF THE STATE. EASTERN IOWA HAS MORE DEMOCRATS THAN REPUBLICANS AND MORE INDEPENDENT VOTERS THAN EVERYONE. THEY EXPECT PEOPLE TO SHOW UP. THEY EXPECT PEOPLE TO CAMPAIGN VIGOROUSLY. THEY WANT FOLKS WHO ARE GOING TO COME AND LISTEN TO THEM AND PAY ATTENTION TO THEM. AND I'VE DEMONSTRATED THAT AGAINST SOME OF THE TOUGHEST CANDIDATES THAT THE DEMOCRATS HAVE HAD TO OFFER, INCLUDING AN INCUMBENT TWICE, THREE STATE PARTY CHAIRS, AND SOME OF THEIR BEST FUNDED CANDIDATES. AND SO I THINK WHEN THEY TALK ABOUT THIS WHOLE ISSUE ABOUT CONGRESSMEN RUNNING, I THINK THAT'S MORE OF A WISHFUL THINKING ON THEIR PART AND AN ARGUMENT THAT THEY'RE KIND OF GRASPING FOR AS MAYBE SOME ARGUMENT TO DRIVE A WEDGE BETWEEN ME AND THE VOTERS.

Yepsen: AND HOW DO YOU DEAL WITH THIS ISSUE THAT YOU'VE BEEN CHAIRMAN OF THE HOUSE BUDGET COMMITTEE? IT SEEMS TO ME YOU GET IT FROM BOTH SIDES. YOU'RE CRITICIZED BY SOME FOR PRESIDING OVER A RECORD FEDERAL BUDGET DEFICIT, AND YET WHENEVER YOU ATTEMPT TO CUT THE FEDERAL BUDGET, YOU CATCH IT FROM THOSE WHOSE SPENDING IS BEING CUT. POLITICALLY, ISN'T THAT AN IMPOSSIBLE SITUATION.

Nussle: WELL, THAT'S WHY WHEN DEAN SAID "THE INFLUENTIAL BUDGET COMMITTEE," I ALWAYS KIND OF LAUGH BECAUSE IT'S PROBABLY THE MORE DISDAINED BUDGET COMMITTEE THAN ANYTHING ELSE BECAUSE WE'RE THE ONES THAT HAVE TO SAY NO TO EVERYONE. ON ONE HAND THERE ARE CERTAINLY PEOPLE WHO SAY THAT ABOUT THE DEFICIT AND SOME WHO SAY THAT WE'RE CUTTING SPENDING TOO MUCH. WE'VE GOT A GROUP RUNNING COMMERCIALS AGAINST ME RIGHT NOW. THEY HAD TO CHANGE THEM BECAUSE THEY WERE INACCURATE, BUT THEY WERE TRYING TO RUN COMMERCIALS AGAINST ME. THE DEFICIT THAT WE HAVE TODAY WAS DELIBERATELY CAUSED AS A RESULT OF WHAT HAPPENED SEPTEMBER 11 TO OUR COUNTRY, TO PROMOTE HOMELAND SECURITY, TO PAY FOR A WAR. AGAIN, REGARDLESS OF PEOPLE'S OPINION OF WHETHER OR NOT IT WAS A RIGHT WAR, WE NEED TO SUPPORT OUR MEN AND WOMEN WHO ARE IN THE FIELD. AND PROBABLY THE MOST IMPORTANT THING IS TO MAKE SURE THAT THE ECONOMY IS GROWING AGAIN, WHICH IT'S UNDISPUTED THAT THE ECONOMY IS GROWING. WE'RE CREATING JOBS. IOWA, ALONG WITH THE REST OF THE COUNTRY, IS CREATING JOBS. THAT WAS JUST REPORTED IN TODAY'S PAPER, AS AN EXAMPLE. THE ECONOMY IS GROWING. WE'RE GETTING BACK ON OUR FEET. AND AS A RESULT OF THE PLANS THAT I'VE PUT IN PLACE, WE HAVE REDUCED THE DEFICIT THE LAST TWO YEARS OVER $200 BILLION, MORE THAN 40 PERCENT OFF THE TOP. I THINK THAT'S A GOOD RECORD AND ONE THAT I'M VERY PROUD TO RUN ON.

Glover: LET'S TALK ABOUT THE CLIMATE OF 2006, THE ELECTION YEAR THAT WE'RE NOW IN. HISTORICALLY THE MID TERM OF THE SECOND TERM OF THE PARTY IN POWER IS NOT A VERY GOOD YEAR FOR THE PARTY THAT'S IN POWER. ALL THE ETHICAL SCANDALS ARE KIND OF ROAMING THROUGH CONGRESS. THE CONVENTIONAL WISDOM IS THIS IS GOING TO BE A PRETTY GOOD YEAR FOR DEMOCRATS, A PRETTY BAD YEAR FOR REPUBLICANS. (A) DO YOU AGREE WITH THAT? AND (B) WHAT DO YOU DO ABOUT IT?

Nussle: WELL, MOST PEOPLE, WHEN THEY GO INTO THE POLLING BOOTH, DON'T SAY, WELL, NOW, THIS IS THE OFF-YEAR OF THE SECOND TERM OF THE FIRST -- YOU KNOW, WITH BLUE HAIR AND BLOND -- NO ONE DOES THAT WHEN THEY'RE GOING INTO THE VOTING BOOTH. WHAT THEY'RE GOING INTO IS JUST WHAT I SAID AT THE OUTSET. THEY WANT SOMEONE WHO IS GOING TO LEAD IOWA AND IS GOING TO REINVIGORATE OUR EDUCATION SYSTEM. I TALKED TO A SENIOR THE OTHER NIGHT WHO TOLD ME -- A SENIOR IN HIGH SCHOOL WHO SAID: IT'S A WASTE OF TIME; A SENIOR YEAR IS A WASTE OF TIME IN IOWA; YOU WORK THREE YEARS AND SENIOR YEAR IS A SKATE. PEOPLE WHO WANT TO CREATE JOBS AND CREATE A MUCH BETTER BUSINESS CLIMATE, THAT'S THE THING PEOPLE ARE GOING TO GO IN AND TALK ABOUT AND THINK ABOUT AS THEY'RE MAKING A DECISION FOR GOVERNOR. SO IT'S NOT GOING TO BE NECESSARILY THE POLITICAL CLIMATE AS MUCH AS THE ANSWERS AND THE ABILITY TO DEAL WITH THE CHALLENGES THAT IOWA IS FACING. AND I BELIEVE THAT'S SOMETHING I'M GOING TO BE ABLE TO COMMUNICATE TO THE IOWA VOTERS.

Yepsen: LET'S GET IN UNDER THE HOOD AND TALK ABOUT SOME OF THESE SPECIFIC ISSUES, CONGRESSMAN. THE GOVERNOR IS SAYING IOWA NEEDS TO BUILD A NEW PRISON. DO WE NEED TO BUILD A NEW PRISON IN FORT MADISON?

Nussle: IT'S INTERESTING BECAUSE, ACCORDING TO THE COMMISSION AT LEAST, ONE COMMISSIONER SAID THAT WAS -- THEY GOT THE BUM'S RUSH ON THAT. THEY DIDN'T -- THE GOVERNOR SAID HE'S USING THEIR RECOMMENDATIONS, BUT ACTUALLY THEY RECOMMENDED THREE DIFFERENT THINGS. THEY SAID LET'S LOOK AT REESTABLISHING FORT MADISON AND REPAIRING IT. THEY SAID LET'S CONSIDER A NEW PRISON AND LET'S CONSIDER REORGANIZING THE CURRENT PRISON SYSTEM SO THAT WE CAN DEAL WITH THAT. THE GOVERNOR SAID IMMEDIATELY, WELL, LET'S BUILD A NEW PRISON. AND THAT'S WHAT I'M SAYING: THE OBVIOUS ANSWER TO MOST PEOPLE, IT SEEMS THESE DAYS, IS LET'S SPEND MORE MONEY, LET'S RAISE MORE TAXES, LET'S CREATE MORE GOVERNMENT WHEN, IN FACT, THERE MAY BE SOMETHING THAT'S MUCH MORE INNOVATIVE THAT WE COULD DO.

Yepsen: SO YOU DON'T WANT TO BUILD A NEW PRISON.

Nussle: I THINK IT NEEDS TO BE CONSIDERED, BUT I DON'T THINK IT SHOULD BE THE FIRST THING THAT THE GOVERNOR SAID WHEN HE WAS GIVEN THREE DIFFERENT OPTIONS ON A COMMISSION THAT SAID THEY WANTED TO LOOK AT IT MORE, IN ADDITION TO A LEGISLATURE THAT WANTS TO STUDY IT MORE. I THINK WE NEED TO STUDY THIS BEFORE WE JUST COME OUT AND SAY LET'S SPEND $80 MILLION WITHOUT MORE CAREFUL CONSIDERATION.

Glover: A BIG DEBATE AT THE LEGISLATURE THIS YEAR IS HOW MUCH THEY WILL LET LOCAL ELEMENTARY AND SECONDARY SCHOOL BUDGETS GROW FOR THE 2007 SCHOOL YEAR.

Nussle: RIGHT.

Glover: THAT WILL BE THE -- IF YOU'RE ELECTED GOVERNOR, YOU'LL BE RESPONSIBLE FOR COMING UP WITH THE MONEY TO PAY FOR THAT. IN THE SENATE, REPUBLICANS AND DEMOCRATS SAY THEY WANT A 6-PERCENT ALLOWABLE GROWTH, WHICH IS ABOUT $150 MILLION. THE HOUSE IS ABOUT AT $100 MILLION, 4 PERCENT. AS GOVERNOR, WHERE WOULD YOU COME DOWN?

Nussle: WELL, AND SEE -- THE GREAT DEBATE IN IOWA NOW OVER EDUCATION IS WHAT IS THE PERCENTAGE INCREASE OF MONEY. THAT'S THE GREAT DEBATE... NOT ARE THE KIDS LEARNING ANYTHING; ARE WE GETTING THE RIGHT RESULTS; IS SENIOR YEAR APPROPRIATE; ARE THEY GETTING THE RIGHT TOOLS IN THEIR TOOLBOX TO BE ABLE TO GO ON, WHETHER IT'S TO COMMUNITY COLLEGE OR WHETHER IT'S TO THE COLLEGE MY WIFE TEACHES AT, THE UNIVERSITY OF DUBUQUE. YOU KNOW SHE SEES THESE KIDS THAT COME OUT OF HIGH SCHOOL, IOWA KIDS THAT DO NOT HAVE THE TOOLS IN THEIR TOOLBOX TO BE PREPARED. SO SHOULD IT BE 6 PERCENT, 8 PERCENT, 2 PERCENT? WHY IS IT -- WHY IS IT A GREAT DEBATE OVER PERCENTAGES AS OPPOSED TO THE RESULTS AND GETTING THE MONEY TO THE CLASSROOM AND THE TEACHER? WE'VE GOT TO GET THE MONEY TO THE CLASSROOM. WE HAVE TO HAVE A RESULTS-ORIENTED DEBATE OVER EDUCATION. IT'S THE REASON WHY I WANT TO REINVIGORATE IT BY GETTING MORE PARENTAL INVOLVEMENT. THAT'S THE REASON WHY I WANT TO MAKE PRESCHOOL A PARENTAL-DRIVEN ISSUE AND NOT A GOVERNMENT-DRIVEN ISSUE. I BELIEVE THOSE ARE SOME OF THE WAYS THAT YOU ACCOMPLISH IT, NOT BY JUST THROWING MORE MONEY AT IT, THROWING MORE OF OUR MONEY AT, AND ASSUMING THAT IT'S GOING TO WORK.

Borg: IS PART OF THAT DEBATE, THEN, TOO MANY, POSSIBLY, SCHOOL DISTRICTS IN IOWA?

Nussle: NOT TOO MANY SCHOOL DISTRICTS AS MUCH AS IT IS TOO MUCH BUREAUCRACY IN EDUCATION. THERE ARE MANY STATES THAT WE'RE TAKING A LOOK AT THAT HAVE DONE GREAT THINGS IN MERGING THE BUREAUCRACY OF EDUCATION. IT'S NOT NECESSARILY MERGING DISTRICTS. PEOPLE GET VERY NERVOUS ABOUT THAT. I KNOW THAT FROM MY OWN STANDPOINT BECAUSE WE'VE GOT A FOOTBALL TEAM WE'RE PRETTY PROUD OF. AND IF WE HAD TO MOVE SOMEPLACE ELSE, THAT GETS PEOPLE -- THE BACK OF THEIR HAIR UP A LITTLE BIT, AND I DON'T BLAME THEM. BUT SHOULD WE CONSIDER MERGING AND FINDING EFFICIENCIES WITHIN THE BUREAUCRACY OF DISTRICTS SO THAT THEY CAN COMBINE, STILL HAVING THE BUILDING, STILL HAVING THE SPORTS TEAM, STILL HAVING QUALITY EDUCATION AT THE LOCAL LEVEL? YES. AND I THINK THAT'S THE KIND OF DEBATE WE NEED TO LOOK AT, NOT JUST ASSUMING THAT YOU'RE MERGING BUILDINGS.

Glover: ARE TEACHERS IN THIS STATE UNDERPAID?

Nussle: YES, THEY ARE.

Glover: HOW MUCH SHOULD THEIR PAY BE INCREASED?

Nussle: WELL, YOU KNOW, THE WAY I LOOK AT IT IS -- JUST TAKE THE TWO BIGGEST EXAMPLES OF PAY SCALES. YOU'VE GOT THE STATE BUREAUCRACY THAT IS NOW MAKING SIXTH IN THE NATION -- RANKS SIXTH IN THE NATION, AND YOU'VE GOT THE TEACHERS RANKED 41ST IN THE NATION. TO ME I THINK IT DEMONSTRATES WHERE THE PRIORITY IS IN THIS ADMINISTRATION. THEY WANT TO PAY THE BUREAUCRACY, AND THEY'RE NOT VALUING EDUCATION. WHEN TERRI BRANSTAD WAS GOVERNOR, WHEN HE LEFT OFFICE, IOWA TEACHERS WERE PAID 26TH IN THE NATION. AND THIS SO-CALLED EDUCATION ADMINISTRATION HAS ALLOWED THAT TO SLIP BECAUSE THEY'VE PANDERED TO THE UNION, THEY'VE GIVEN THEM PERCENTAGE INCREASES, THEY HAVEN'T FIGURED OUT THE WAY TO GET THE MONEY TO THE CLASSROOM, AND THEY HAVE SUPPORTED THE STATE BUREAUCRACY OVER CLASSROOM TEACHERS. AND WE'VE GOT TO -- AND WE'VE GOT TO CHANGE THAT DYNAMIC IF WE'RE GOING TO GET THE MONEY THERE AND GET THEM THE KIND OF REIMBURSEMENT THEY DESERVE.

Yepsen: ANOTHER ISSUE THAT WILL FACE THE NEXT GOVERNOR OF THIS STATE IS THE QUESTION OF WATER QUALITY. WHAT WOULD YOU DO ABOUT CONTROVERSY SURROUNDING WATER QUALITY?

Nussle: WELL, FIRST, I WOULDN'T THROW ANOTHER $50 MILLION AT IT WITHOUT FINDING WHERE THE LAST $50 MILLION WENT. THE GOVERNOR IN HIS CONDITION OF THE STATE AND BUDGET SAYS LET'S THROW ANOTHER $50 MILLION AT IT. THAT'S NOT WHAT THE DNR SAID IN YOUR PAPER, "THE DES MOINES REGISTER," ABOUT HOW THEY'RE HAVING A DIFFICULT TIME MANAGING RIVERS AND STREAMS AND QUALITY. AND I THINK THERE ARE THREE THINGS THAT I'VE LEARNED IN JUST TALKING TO PEOPLE ABOUT THIS ISSUE. REGULATIONS ARE NOT PREDICTABLE. THE DECISIONS ARE NOT PREDICTABLE. THEY'RE NOT TIMELY. I'VE TALKED TO PEOPLE THAT HAVE WAITED THREE YEARS FOR A DECISION OUT OF A STATE AGENCY, AND IT'S NOT ALWAYS BASED IN SCIENCE. SO IF IT'S NOT PREDICTABLE, IT'S NOT TIMELY, AND IT'S NOT BASED ON SCIENCE, THERE'S NO WAY ANY AMOUNT OF MONEY IS GOING TO HELP SOLVE OUR PROBLEM WITH RIVERS AND STREAMS.

Yepsen: POLITICIANS ALWAYS SAY, WELL, WE CAN HAVE CLEAN WATER AND THE LIVESTOCK AND HOG INDUSTRY, YET FOR SOME REASON WE'RE HAVING TROUBLE GETTING THAT BALANCE. HOW WOULD YOU DO THAT?

Nussle: I THINK WE'VE GOT TO BE MUCH MORE PREDICTABLE AND WE HAVE TO BE MUCH MORE TIMELY IN THIS DEBATE. RIGHT NOW THE WAY I LOOK AT IT, JUST FROM OBSERVING THIS AS A CITIZEN WATCHING THE LEGISLATURE AND THE GOVERNOR DEAL WITH THIS, IS THAT NO ONE WANTS TO MAKE A DECISION. EVERYONE IS AFRAID TO MAKE ONE CONSTITUENCY MAD VERSUS THE OTHERS, AND I THINK WE'VE GOT TO MAKE A COUPLE OF COMMITMENTS. WE WANT TO BE A LIVESTOCK STATE. ANIMAL AGRICULTURE IN IOWA IS IMPORTANT, IF FOR NO OTHER REASON BECAUSE IT HELPS US DEVELOP THE RURAL AREAS AND IT'S PART OF AN ENERGY PLAN THAT ALLOWS US TO USE THE DISTILLERS' GRAIN FROM ETHANOL, AS AN EXAMPLE, TO FEED IT OUT TO CATTLE. THIS ALLOWS US TO EXPAND JOBS AND OPPORTUNITIES, BUT IT SHOULD BE DONE IN A VERY PREDICTABLE, TIMELY, AND SCIENCE-BASED METHOD SO THAT WE CAN ENSURE THAT EVERYONE WHO'S IN THIS INDUSTRY KNOWS EXACTLY WHAT THE RULES ARE AND KNOWS EXACTLY HOW TO DEAL WITH THEM.

Yepsen: AND HOG LOTS, DO YOU FAVOR LOCAL CONTROL OR STATEWIDE STANDARDS?

Nussle: I THINK THE STATE STANDARD HAS TO BE THE SAME FOR EVERYONE. I THINK THE STANDARD HAS TO BE THERE FOR EVERYONE SO THAT IT'S PREDICTABLE AGAIN AND SO THAT IT'S VERY CLEAR. BUT I DO THINK LOCAL SITING HAS BEEN MUCH MORE SUCCESSFUL, BECAUSE I THINK THERE IS A -- THERE IS A NUANCE TO THAT, THAT AGAIN THE STATE DOESN'T RECOGNIZE MAYBE AS EASILY AS THE LOCALS DO, ABOUT WHERE THE SITING SHOULD ACTUALLY OCCUR.

Borg: BEFORE WE LEAVE THE LIVESTOCK INDUSTRY, JAPAN TWO YEARS AGO IMPOSED A BAN ON U.S. BEEF.

Nussle: OH, YEAH.

Borg: AND JUST TWO WEEKS AGO, BECAUSE OF THEIR CONCERNS OVER MAD COW DISEASE, THEY LIFTED THAT BAN. U.S. PRODUCERS WOKE UP FRIDAY MORNING AND DISCOVERED JAPAN IS AGAIN BLOCKING U.S. IMPORTS OF BEEF. IS THERE ANYTHING THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT, OR MAYBE STATE GOVERNMENT, BUT FEDERAL GOVERNMENT CAN DO ABOUT THAT?

Nussle: WE NEED TO BE VERY VIGOROUS WITH OUR NEGOTIATIONS WITH JAPAN. AND THIS IS A -- THIS IS A MATTER OF OPEN MARKETS. IF WE'RE GOING TO BE OPEN TO THE MARKET OF JAPAN, ALLOWING THEIR GOODS TO COME INTO OUR MARKET, THEN THEY HAVE TO BASE THEIR DECISIONS BASED ON SCIENCE GOING INTO THEIR MARKET. THERE HAVE BEEN A LOT OF SCARE TACTICS USED, AND IT'S NOT ONLY TRUE WITH REGARD TO BEEF, IT'S ALSO TRUE THROUGH PRODUCTS ENHANCED THROUGH BIOTECHNOLOGY. THERE'S BEEN A LOT OF SCARE TACTICS THAT, REALLY AS FAR AS I'M CONCERNED, NOT ONLY HAVE BEEN BAD FOR OUR INDUSTRY BUT INTERNATIONALLY IS STARVING THE CONTINENT OF AFRICA. SO WE NEED TO BE MUCH MORE VIGOROUS IN OUR NEGOTIATIONS. WE FINALLY GOT THEM TO THAT POINT, AND I THINK WE NEED TO GO BACK AT IT. THE USTR, THE TRADE REPRESENTATIVE, ROB PORTMAN, I KNOW IS GOING TO BE ALL OVER THIS BECAUSE HE'S A SUPPORTER OF MAKING SURE THAT MARKET IS OPEN.

Glover: ANOTHER DEBATE THAT'S RAGING CURRENTLY AT THE STATEHOUSE IS OVER WHAT TO DO ABOUT RENEWABLE FUELS. YOU'VE MADE A VERY BIG DEAL ABOUT RENEWABLE FUELS. YOU'VE CALLED FOR A STATEWIDE MANDATE FOR 10 PERCENT ETHANOL TO BE IN ALL GASOLINE SOLD IN THE STATE. OTHERS AT THE STATEHOUSE SAY THAT THE STATE WOULD BE BETTER OFF INVESTING MONEY TO MAKE SURE THAT 85-PERCENT BLENDED ETHANOL IS MORE AVAILABLE IN THE STATE. ARE THOSE TWO POLICIES IN CONFLICT? CAN WE DO BOTH AT THE SAME TIME? HOW WOULD YOU COME DOWN ON THIS?

Nussle: ACTUALLY THEY'RE NOT IN CONFLICT; THEY'RE COMPLEMENTARY BECAUSE IF YOU MANDATE -- AND I KNOW NO ONE LIKES MANDATES, BUT WE ARE IN A MUCH DIFFERENT INTERNATIONAL AND PARTICULARLY STATE AND NATIONAL CRISIS WHEN IT COMES TO ENERGY, AND WE'VE GOT TO GET SERIOUS ABOUT THIS. RIGHT NOW WE HAVE A 50-PERCENT INTERNATIONAL MANDATE ON THE FUEL THAT WE USE; 50 PERCENT OF THE GAS THAT YOU PUMP INTO YOUR CAR COMES FROM INTERNATIONAL SOURCES, NOT FROM IOWA, NOT FROM AMERICA. SO WE ALREADY HAVE A MANDATE: 50 PERCENT OF IT HAS TO COME FROM SOMEWHERE ELSE. I'M SAYING LET'S PUT 10 PERCENT IN MINIMUM. WE CAN ALWAYS GO HIGHER THAN THAT. BUT THE REASON WHY I THINK THIS MINIMUM STANDARD IS IMPORTANT IS AT THE GAS STATION LEVEL. I WANT TO EXPAND THE AMOUNT OF PUMPS AND TANKS THAT ARE AVAILABLE FOR E85. IF YOU MAKE -- IF YOU ENSURE THAT EVERY GALLON HAS TO AT LEAST HAVE 10 PERCENT, IT FREES UP ONE TANK AT EVERY STATION WHICH NOW DOESN'T HAVE A BLEND TO BE USED FOR E85, THE WAY ILLINOIS, WISCONSIN, MINNESOTA, AND NEBRASKA HAVE DONE, THROUGH CHANGING THEIR COUPLINGS AND THEIR HOSES AND THE GASKET THAT NEEDS TO BE CHANGED. THEIR DNRs HAVE APPROVED IT. OURS, FOR SOME REASON, CONTINUES TO DRAG THEIR FEET. WE NEED TO DISTRIBUTE E85 AND I THINK THIS IS THE QUICKEST WAY THAT WE CAN GET THAT DONE.

Glover: REPUBLICANS AT THE STATEHOUSE HAVE PROPOSED ABOUT $5 MILLION TO PUT IN PLACE INCENTIVES FOR INSTALLATIONS LIKE THAT. IS THAT ENOUGH MONEY? MORE?

Nussle: IT DEPENDS ON THE AMOUNT OF TANKS THAT WE'RE ABLE TO CHANGE. IT'S A RETROFIT THAT I'VE HEARD CAN COST AS LITTLE AS $500 TO MAKE THE CHANGE, AS OPPOSED TO A BRAND-NEW TANK WHICH IS ABOUT A $35,000 MINIMUM. SO I'D MUCH RATHER LOOK AT SOMETHING THAT'S SAFE FOR THE ENVIRONMENT, THAT'S A $500 CHARGE, AND ALLOWS THE DISTRIBUTION OF E85 ACROSS THE STATE, AS OPPOSED TO ONE THAT'S A $35,000-PER-TANK CHARGE THAT, OF COURSE, THE STATION HAS TO EAT -- OR THE BULK OF IT THEY HAVE TO EAT, AND THAT DOESN'T GET US AROUND THE STATE QUITE AS QUICKLY.

Glover: REALISTICALLY THERE ARE ABOUT 100,000 CARS IN THE STATE THAT ARE CAPABLE OF RUNNING ON THIS 85-PERCENT BLEND OF ETHANOL. HOW SOON CAN WE HAVE A MORE BROAD MARKET, WHICH WOULD MAKE IT MORE ATTRACTIVE FOR THESE STATIONS TO OFFER THIS?

Nussle: WELL, THIS IS --

Glover: HOW QUICKLY CAN THIS HAPPEN?

Nussle: THIS IS THE CHICKEN AND THE EGG THEORY, YOU KNOW, WHICH COMES FIRST. AND THERE'S NO QUESTION WE'VE SEEN THIS WHENEVER WE'VE OPENED THOSE NEW STATIONS. I'VE BEEN AT SOME OF THESE OPENINGS. THERE'S A LOT OF THESE FLEX-FUEL VEHICLES THAT ARE OUT THERE, AND THE CAR COMPANIES NOW ARE MANUFACTURING THESE AS QUICKLY AS THEY CAN. THERE ARE SOME COUNTRIES THAT HAVE GONE TOTALLY TO ETHANOL AND E85 TO A LARGE EXTENT. SO IF THE DISTRIBUTION OF FUEL IS AVAILABLE, I BELIEVE PEOPLE WANT TO PUMP IOWA ENERGY, THEY WANT TO MAKE THAT CHOICE, THEY WANT TO CHOOSE SOMETHING THAT'S AMERICAN, AS OPPOSED TO NOW WHICH IS 50-PERCENT BLENDED FROM INTERNATIONAL SOURCES. I THINK THEY WANT TO BE GOOD TO THE ENVIRONMENT, AND THEY WANT TO SUPPORT OUR ECONOMY, WHICH THIS DOES AS WELL. SO I THINK THE CHOICE WILL BE THERE IF WE CAN GET THE DISTRIBUTION OF THE FUEL.

Yepsen: CONGRESSMAN, TAX POLICY IS ALWAYS AN ISSUE IN IOWA. IF YOU'RE ELECTED GOVERNOR, WILL YOU RAISE TAXES?

Nussle: NO. I MEAN OUR PROBLEM IN IOWA I DON'T BELIEVE IS AN ISSUE OF RAISING TAXES. DO WE NEED TO BROADEN THE BASE OF OUR ECONOMY, WHICH WE'VE DONE AT THE FEDERAL LEVEL AS BUDGET CHAIRMAN? AND PART OF WHAT WE WERE DOING WITH OUR ECONOMY WAS GROWING THE BASIS WAS OUR ECONOMY. IN THIS LAST YEAR ALONE, IT BROUGHT IN 15 PERCENT MORE REVENUE TO THE TREASURY, NOT WITH A TAX INCREASE BUT WITH A TAX CUT. I THINK WE OUGHT TO REDUCE TAXES, PARTICULARLY IN PROPERTY AND INCOME TAXES, TO MAKE US MORE COMPETITIVE WITH THE STATES AROUND US.

Yepsen: HOW ABOUT RAISING THE CIGARETTE TAX? DO YOU FAVOR OR OPPOSE THAT?

Nussle: YOU KNOW, I OPPOSE THE INCREASE TO THE CIGARETTE TAX AND THE BEER TAX. I JUST DON'T THINK THIS IS THE RIGHT TIME TO BE RAISING TAXES. AND IF YOU WANT TO HELP US WITH THE ISSUE OF SMOKERS, GIVING AN INCENTIVE OR A DISINCENTIVE TO SMOKERS INVOLVED IN HEALTH INSURANCE, THEN LET'S ALLOW US TO WEIGHT THE PREMIUMS, PUT PREMIUM WEIGHTING IN THERE FOR SMOKERS, THE WAY WE DO FOR LIFE INSURANCE. THAT'S NOT ALLOWED NOW. LET'S ALLOW THAT AS OPPOSED TO JUST INCREASING THE PER-PACK PRICE.

Glover: ONE OF THE THINGS THAT THE GOVERNOR WILL DO, THE NEXT GOVERNOR OF THIS STATE, IS LEAD THE DISCUSSION OF WHETHER IOWA HAS TOO MUCH GOVERNMENT: LOCAL GOVERNMENT, CITY GOVERNMENT, COUNTY GOVERNMENTS. DOES IOWA HAVE TOO MUCH GOVERNMENT? IS IT TIME TO CONSOLIDATE? AND HOW DO YOU GO ABOUT THAT? WHAT SORT OF INCENTIVES DO YOU PUT IN PLACE TO GET GOVERNMENT TO CONSOLIDATE?

Nussle: WELL, FIRST, IF JIM NUSSLE IS ELECTED GOVERNOR, THAT WILL HAPPEN. THAT DEBATE WILL OCCUR. BUT I'M NOT CONVINCED, MIKE, THAT THAT WILL OCCUR IF JUST ANYONE IS ELECTED. I ACTUALLY HAVE HAD THAT AS PART OF MY PLATFORM, THAT WE NEED TO REORGANIZE GOVERNMENT AT ALL LEVELS. I'M SOMEONE, THOUGH, WHO, AS DEAN SAID IN HIS OPENING, I'VE HAD A LITTLE BIT OF EXPERIENCE IN COUNTY GOVERNMENT. AND THE ONE THING, WHETHER YOU LIVE AS FAR AWAY FROM DES MOINES AS I DO IN MANCHESTER OR YOU'RE IN COUNTY GOVERNMENT OR CITY GOVERNMENT, YOU ALREADY FEEL LIKE THE STATE IS TELLING YOU WHAT TO DO AND GIVING YOU MANDATES AND THINKING YOU'RE THE PROBLEM WHEN, IN FACT, THEY LOOK AT THE STATE AND SAY YOU'RE THE ONE WITH ALL THE -- WITH ALL THE EMPLOYEES AND THE BUREAUCRACY AND THE PAPERWORK AND THE LAWS AND THE RULES AND THE MANDATES AND EVERYTHING ELSE... YOU REFORM FIRST! SO I BELIEVE THE WAY TO DO THIS IS FOR THE STATE GOVERNMENT TO REFORM AND REORGANIZE FIRST, AS OPPOSED TO LOOKING AT THE COUNTIES AND SAYING WE'RE GOING TO REORGANIZE GOVERNMENT AND YOU GO FIRST. I THINK WE OUGHT TO GO FIRST IN STATE GOVERNMENT.

Yepsen: WE'VE ONLY GOT ABOUT THIRTY SECONDS LEFT. WHEN TOM VILSACK FIRST RAN FOR GOVERNOR, HE SAID HE WOULD ONLY SERVE TWO TERMS, AND HE STUCK TO THAT PROMISE. IF YOU'RE ELECTED GOVERNOR, HOW MANY TERMS WOULD YOU LIKE TO SERVE?

Nussle: THAT'S A FAIR QUESTION BUT I HAVEN'T EVEN THOUGHT ABOUT THAT. I'M STILL TRYING TO WIN THE PRIMARY AND TO WIN THE GOVERNOR'S RACE IN NOVEMBER. SO I HAVE BEEN IN FAVOR OF TERM LIMITS. I VOTED FOR THAT IN CONGRESS. BUT, NO, I HAVEN'T MADE A DECISION ABOUT THAT.

Borg: THANK YOU VERY MUCH FOR SPENDING TIME WITH US TODAY. AS LONG AS WE'RE TALKING ABOUT TIME, I'LL USE THE MOMENT TO CALL IT QUITS.

Nussle: THANK YOU.

Borg: THANK YOU FOR BEING WITH US. WE'LL BE BACK NEXT WEEKEND AT OUR REGULAR "IOWA PRESS" AIRTIMES: THAT'S 7:30 FRIDAY NIGHT AND SUNDAY MORNING AT 11.30. I'M DEAN BORG. THANKS FOR JOINING US TODAY.

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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