Iowa Public Television

 

Governor Chet Culver

posted on February 2, 2007

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Borg: THERE'S A TOLL ON IOWA'S ROAD TO THE FUTURE. THE QUESTION IS WHICH ROAD AND WHAT'S THE TOLL. GOVERNOR CHET CULVER CHARTS A COURSE AND THE COST. A CONVERSATION WITH GOVERNOR CULVER 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; AND BY THE ASSOCIATED GENERAL CONTRACTORS OF IOWA, THE PUBLIC'S PARTNER IN BUILDING IOWA'S HIGHWAY, BRIDGE, AND MUNICIPAL UTILITY INFRASTRUCTURE.

ON STATEWIDE IOWA PUBLIC TELEVISION, THIS IS THE FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 2 EDITION OF 'IOWA PRESS.' HERE IS DEAN BORG.

Borg: GOVERNOR CHET CULVER'S FIRST STATE BUDGET INCREASES STATE SPENDING BY 7.5 PERCENT OVER THE CURRENT YEAR'S SPENDING. IN SUBMITTING SPENDING THAT PLAN TO THE LEGISLATIVE PROCESS THIS PAST WEEK, THE GOVERNOR MADE HIS CASE FOR SIGNIFICANTLY INCREASING SPENDING FOR EDUCATION, HEALTH CARE, AND SPURRING ALTERNATIVE ENERGY DEVELOPMENT. IN FACT, THE GOVERNOR CONSIDERS ACCELERATING ALTERNATIVE ENERGY SO IMPORTANT HE WANTS LEGISLATORS TO MAKE AN IMMEDIATE SUPPLEMENTAL APPROPRIATION TO A NEW IOWA POWER FUND IN THIS CURRENT BUDGET YEAR RATHER THAN WAITING FOR THE NEW BUDGET TO TAKE EFFECT ON JULY 1. APPLAUSE AND CHEERING DURING THE BUDGET SPEECH IS NOW GIVING WAY TO THE GIVE AND TAKE OF CONVERTING RHETORIC TO REALITY. AND THAT INCLUDES PAYING FOR THE IDEAS BY BOOSTING STATE REVENUE. A MAJOR BEAM IN BUILDING THE GOVERNOR'S BUDGET IS A DOLLAR-A-PACK CIGARETTE TAX INCREASE. GOVERNOR CULVER IS HERE NOW TO PROVIDE ADDITIONAL INSIGHT ON HIS VISION FOR THE STATE AND THE SPENDING TO GET THERE. WELCOME BACK TO 'IOWA PRESS.'

Culver: THANK YOU, DEAN. GREAT TO BE WITH YOU.

Borg: AND ACROSS THE TABLE, TWO GENTLEMEN WHO LISTENED TO THAT BUDGET ADDRESS THIS PAST WEEK IN PERSON AT THE STATE LEGISLATURE: 'DES MOINES REGISTER' SENIOR POLITICAL WRITER AND COLUMNIST DAVID YEPSEN; AND 'ASSOCIATED PRESS' SENIOR POLITICAL WRITER MIKE GLOVER.

Glover: GOVERNOR, FORMER GOVERNOR PETE DUPONT ONCE SAID THAT AS GOVERNOR YOU CAN DO ANYTHING YOU WANT, BUT YOU CAN'T DO EVERYTHING WE WANT. YOU HAVE TO PICK YOUR BATTLES. WHAT ARE YOUR TOP PRIORITIES? WHAT ARE THE THINGS -- I GUESS IT'S A WAY OF ASKING WHAT DO YOU WANT TO BE REMEMBERED FOR.

Culver: WELL, I AGREE WITH FORMER GOVERNOR DUPONT. IN FACT, THAT WAS ONE OF THE FIVE BUDGETING PRACTICES THAT I ENCOURAGED THE LEGISLATURE TO FOLLOW, THAT WE HAVE TO MAKE TOUGH CHOICES. AND WE CANNOT DO EVERYTHING THAT PEOPLE WANT US TO DO, BUT WE CAN DO A GREAT DEAL. SO I THINK WHEN IT COMES TO THE BUDGET, I HOPE THAT I'M A GOVERNOR THAT IS FISCALLY CONSERVATIVE, THAT I LEAVE THE STATE'S FISCAL HOUSE IN BETTER SHAPE THAN I FOUND IT.

Glover: WHAT PRIORITIES DO YOU WANT TO FOCUS ON?

Culver: WELL, AFTER WE TAKE CARE OF THE RESERVES AND MAINTAIN A SURPLUS OF CLOSE TO $200 MILLION, WE ARE GOING TO FOCUS ON THREE AREAS: EDUCATION, ENERGY, AND HEALTH CARE. I REALLY BELIEVE WE NEED TO GET BACK TO BEING THE VERY BEST WHEN IT COMES TO EDUCATION. I THINK THERE'S CONSENSUS AT THE LEGISLATURE THAT WE ALL WANT TO RESTORE EXCELLENCE TO EDUCATION. AND IN MY BUDGET WE SPELL OUT A DETAILED PLAN ON HOW WE'RE GOING TO DO THAT, INCLUDING EXPANDING EARLY CHILDHOOD EDUCATION, GETTING TEACHER PAY TO 25TH IN THE NATION, AND MAKING COLLEGE MORE AFFORDABLE. ENERGY, I WANT IOWA TO BECOME THE ENERGY CAPITAL OF THE COUNTRY. WE CAN LITERALLY HELP FUEL THE WORLD HERE, BUT THAT'S GOING TO TAKE AN INVESTMENT. THAT'S WHY, AS DEAN SUGGESTED, I'VE CALLED FOR AN IMMEDIATE CREATION OF THE IOWA POWER FUND. AND THEN FINALLY, HEALTH CARE IS PERHAPS OUR BIGGEST CHALLENGE, WITH 250,000 IOWANS AND 50,000 KIDS WITHOUT IT.

Glover: AND THOSE STATE LEADERS SAY THEY WANT TO GET TO 25TH IN THE NATION BY -- WITHIN TWO YEARS. IS THAT YOUR --

Culver: THAT WOULD BE FANTASTIC AND THAT IS WHY I PUT ADDITIONAL MONEY INTO TEACHER PAY, $70 MILLION, MIKE. IT'S THE LARGEST SINGLE INVESTMENT IN TEACHER PAY IN THE HISTORY OF OUR STATE. I'M A FORMER TEACHER AND I'M GOING TO BE FIGHTING FOR TEACHERS ACROSS THE STATE. AND I HOPE WE CAN GET THERE AS QUICKLY AS POSSIBLE IN TERMS OF BEING 25TH IN THE NATION.

Yepsen: GOVERNOR, WE'VE GOT QUESTIONS ABOUT ALL THAT. THE FIRST QUESTION I HAVE, THOUGH, IS ABOUT THE CIGARETTE TAX. YOU ASKED FOR A DOLLAR A PACK. LEGISLATORS ARE SAYING, WHOA, THAT'S WAY TOO MUCH, MAYBE 40 TO 60 CENTS. IF THE LEGISLATURE CUTS BACK ON THIS -- AND I UNDERSTAND YOU'RE FOR A DOLLAR, BUT IF THE LEGISLATURE CUTS BACK ON THIS, WHAT GIVES IN YOUR BUDGET? WHAT DO YOU GIVE UP?

Culver: WELL, ACTUALLY THE LEGISLATORS THAT I'VE TALKED TO, DAVID, SAID THAT THEY SUPPORT A DOLLAR-PER-PACK INCREASE. IN FACT, THE SPEAKER, WHO PREVIOUSLY DID SAY THAT IT MIGHT BE TOUGH TO GET TO A DOLLAR, SAID THE DAY AFTER THE SPEECH THAT I MADE A VERY COMPELLING ARGUMENT FOR WHY IT HAD TO BE A DOLLAR. SO I'M GOING TO WORK VERY HARD. I'VE JUST TRAVELED THE STATE. I'VE BEEN TO SIX CITIES IN THE LAST COUPLE OF DAYS. NOT ONE PERSON THAT I'VE RUN INTO SAID THEY WEREN'T SUPPORTIVE OF A DOLLAR-A PACK INCREASE IN THE CIGARETTE TAX.

Yepsen: GOVERNOR, WHAT IF THE TAX WORKS? LET'S SAY YOU GET A DOLLAR OUT OF THE LEGISLATURE BUT PEOPLE QUIT SMOKING. THAT'S ONE OF THE THINGS YOU WANT TO HAVE ACCOMPLISHED. YOUR TEXT REVENUES WILL GO DOWN. SO AGAIN, IF THE TAX WORKS AND YOU COLLECT LESS OF IT, WHAT ARE YOU GOING TO GIVE UP IN YOUR BUDGET?

Culver: WELL, HERE'S THE GREAT NEWS, DAVID, IF THE TAX WORKS, IF WE GET THE DOLLAR-A-PACK INCREASE, WE WILL SAVE 17,000 LIVES, WE WILL HELP 20,000 ADULTS QUIT SMOKING, AND WE WILL PREVENT 38,000 TEENAGERS FROM STARTING TO SMOKE. THOSE ARE TERRIFIC OUTCOMES AND THAT WOULD BE A FANTASTIC THING. NUMBER TWO, IF THE CIGARETTE TAX REVENUES DIMINISH -- AND THEY WILL OVER A PERIOD OF TIME -- WE WILL NOT HAVE THE HUNDREDS OF MILLIONS OF DOLLARS IN MEDICAID COST THAT WE HAVE ON AN ANNUAL BASIS TO TREAT SMOKE-RELATED ILLNESSES.

Yepsen: WHAT DO YOU SAY TO BORDER MERCHANTS? THIRTY-FOUR PERCENT OF IOWA'S POPULATION LIVES IN THE COUNTIES ALONG OUR BORDERS, AND MANY OF THE MERCHANTS IN THOSE COUNTIES ARE CONCERNED THAT IF YOU RAISE THE TAX THAT MUCH ON CIGARETTES, PEOPLE FROM OTHER STATES WHO ARE COMING HERE NOW TO BUY CIGARETTES AND GROCERIES AND OTHER THINGS AREN'T GOING TO DO THAT. WHAT DO YOU SAY TO THOSE PEOPLE?

Culver: HERE ARE THE FACTS ON THAT ISSUE. THIS TAX WILL HAVE AN IMPACT ON ABOUT 5 PERCENT OF OVERALL CIGARETTE TAX -- CIGARETTE SALES IN THE STATE OF IOWA. THE NUMBER ONE PLACE THAT SMOKERS BUY THEIR CIGARETTES ARE AT THE CLOSEST AND MOST EXPENSIVE LOCATION. THEY ARE ADDICTED TO NICOTINE. THEY NEED TO HAVE THIS PRODUCT. THEY DON'T GET IN THEIR CAR, MOST OF THEM, AND DRIVE A LONG DISTANCE TO GET THEM. SO THERE'S SOME INFORMATION OUT THERE THAT'S NOT EXACTLY CORRECT. AND I'M HAPPY TO TELL YOU AS WELL THAT BORDER SENATORS LIKE GENE FRAISE FROM SOUTHEAST IOWA AND MIKE CONNOLLY FROM DUBUQUE SUPPORT THE DOLLAR-A-PACK CIGARETTE TAX INCREASE.

Yepsen: ONE LAST SMOKING QUESTION. ARE THERE ANY OTHER ANTISMOKING MEASURES THAT YOU'RE WILLING TO SUPPORT HERE? I'M THINKING OF PREEMPTION, LOCAL COMMUNITIES BEING ABLE TO SET THEIR OWN STANDARDS, BANNING SMOKING IN THE WORKPLACE OR IN RESTAURANTS. ANY OF THOSE IDEAS HAVE ANY ATTRACTION WITH YOU?

Culver: WELL, I HAVE SAID THROUGHOUT THE CAMPAIGN THAT I AM FOR LOCAL CONTROL, THAT I THINK LOCAL COMMUNITIES SHOULD HAVE THE POWER TO DECIDE IF THEY WANT SMOKE-FREE ENVIRONMENTS.

Borg: A FEW YEARS AGO THE STATE LEGISLATURE SAID TO SCHOOLS AND LOCAL COUNTIES, YOU CAN DO A LOCAL OPTION SALES TAX INCREASE BY A PENNY IF YOU CAN GET YOUR VOTERS IN YOUR RESPECTIVE COUNTIES TO VOTE THAT IN; 97 OF THE 99 COUNTIES IN IOWA HAVE DONE THAT. LINN AND JOHNSON COUNTIES ON FEBRUARY 13 ARE GOING TO SEE WHETHER THEY'RE THE FINAL TWO COUNTIES TO ADD THAT ADDITIONAL TAX. BUT THERE'S ALSO SOME DISCUSSION ABOUT IN THE FUTURE GOING TO A STATEWIDE SALES TAX BECAUSE OF THE INEQUITIES IN THE CURRENT SYSTEM OF DIFFERENT COUNTIES SPENDING THE MONEY, DIFFERENT SCHOOLS SPENDING THE MONEY ON DIFFERENT THINGS.

Culver: SURE.

Borg: WOULD YOU BE IN FAVOR OF A STATEWIDE SALES TAX FOR SCHOOLS?

Culver: WELL, I THINK THAT'S A DISCUSSION THAT I EXPECT THE LEGISLATURE WILL HAVE IN THE COMING YEARS.

Borg: WHAT ABOUT YOU?

Culver: I'M FOR LOCAL CONTROL. I THINK IT'S GREAT THAT THOSE TWO COUNTIES ARE GOING TO HAVE THIS REFERENDUM IN FEBRUARY, AND THEN WE'LL SEE WHAT HAPPENS IN THE FUTURE. BUT I SUPPORT THE LOCAL OPTION SALES TAX AT THIS POINT.

Glover: GOVERNOR, THERE'S A DEBATE GOING ON IN THE LEGISLATURE ABOUT AMENDING THE STATE'S LABOR LAWS, PARTICULARLY TO APPROVE A THING CALLED FAIR SHARE, WHICH IS IF A WORKER IN A BARGAINING UNIT GETS SERVICES FROM A UNION, THEY WOULD HAVE TO PAY A FEE FOR THAT SERVICE. WHAT'S YOUR VIEW ON THAT?

Culver: WELL, I THINK YOU STATED IT CORRECTLY, MIKE. THEY ARE TALKING ABOUT AMENDING THE CURRENT LAW. VERY FEW PEOPLE ARE TALKING ABOUT REPEALING RIGHT TO WORK.

Glover: RIGHT.

Culver: I HAVE SAID THAT I BELIEVE WE CAN DO BOTH AND THAT I WOULD SIGN A BILL THAT BOTH ALLOWS PEOPLE TO PAY THEIR FAIR SHARE IF THEY GET THE BENEFIT OF A UNION CONTRACT, BUT ALSO AT THE SAME TIME DOES NOT REPEAL RIGHT TO WORK.

Glover: SO IF THAT BILL LANDS ON YOUR DESK, YOU'LL SIGN IT. BUT AS GOVERNOR, YOU HAVE A ROLE IN SEEING WHAT LANDS ON YOUR DESK. HOW BAD DO YOU WANT IT? HOW FAR OUT OF YOUR WAY WILL YOU GO TO SEE --

Culver: WELL, THIS IS A BIG ISSUE FOR A LOT OF HARD WORKING FOLKS ACROSS THE STATE. I EXPECT THE LEGISLATURE WILL TAKE THAT UP IN THE NEXT WEEK OR TWO, AND IT COULD BE ON MY DESK WITHIN THAT PERIOD OF TIME. YOU KNOW, LOOK, I THINK IT'S IMPORTANT THAT WE STAND UP AND FIGHT FOR WORKERS. THAT'S WHY I WAS SO PROUD OF THE FACT THAT I SIGNED THE MINIMUM WAGE INCREASE AS THE FIRST BILL AS GOVERNOR THAT I SIGNED. THAT HELPED 260,000 IOWA FAMILIES.

Glover: SO YOU WILL EXERT SOME INFLUENCE UP THERE TO SEE THAT IT HAPPENS.

Culver: YOU KNOW, I'M GOING TO BE VERY RESPECTFUL OF THE LEGISLATIVE PROCESS. I'M A FORMER GOVERNMENT TEACHER. THE MINIMUM WAGE, FOR EXAMPLE, I REALLY WANTED THE MINIMUM WAGE BILL ON MY DESK, BUT I LET THE LEGISLATURE DO THEIR WORK. I DID NOT INTERFERE WITH THAT PROCESS, BUT I HAVE HAD DISCUSSIONS ABOUT ALL OF THESE ISSUES. BUT I REALLY AM GOING TO BE RESPECTFUL OF THE TIMING AND THE PROCESS WITH REGARD TO THE LEGISLATIVE -- AND THE LEGISLATORS THAT WILL MAKE THOSE DECISIONS.

Yepsen: WHAT IF YOU HAVE TO CHANGE THE RIGHT TO WORK LAW? THERE ARE PEOPLE WHO SAY YOU CANNOT LEGALIZE THE FAIR SHARE COLLECTION OF DUES FROM NONUNION MEMBERS WITHOUT CHANGING THE IOWA RIGHT TO WORK LAW. ARE YOU STILL FOR DOING THAT?

Culver: I THINK THAT'S THE CHALLENGE THAT THE LEGISLATURE WILL HAVE, AND THAT WILL BE A PART OF THE DEBATE AND THE DISCUSSION. HERE'S WHAT I'M IN FAVOR OF, DAVID. I WAS A MEMBER OF THE DES MOINES TEACHERS ASSOCIATION. ABOUT 90 PERCENT OF THE TEACHERS IN THE DES MOINES PUBLIC SCHOOLS WERE MEMBERS OF THAT UNION. IN FACT, I WAS AN ALTERNATIVE BUILDING REPRESENTATIVE. I WORKED ON BEHALF OF THE TEACHERS, AND I HAD THE HONOR OF REPRESENTING THEM AS AN ALTERNATIVE BUILDING REPRESENTATIVE. ALL PEOPLE ARE SAYING IS THAT IF A TEACHER IN THE DES MOINES PUBLIC SCHOOL GETS FIRED AND THEY FILE A GRIEVANCE AND THEY GET THE BENEFITS OF THAT UNION, THE CURRENT LAW SAYS THE UNION MUST REPRESENT THEM EVEN THOUGH THEY'RE NOT A PART OF THE UNION. IN MANY CASES THE UNION GETS THEIR JOB BACK FOR THEM AND THEY GET BACK IN THE CLASSROOM. FAIR SHARE WOULD REQUIRE THEM TO PAY FOR THAT SERVICE.

Yepsen: WHAT ABOUT THE ARGUMENT THAT THE BUSINESS COMMUNITY IS MAKING IN THIS STATE, THAT IT'S A JOB KILLER, THAT IT HURTS ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT? THE STATE ON TUESDAY IN THE WALL STREET JOURNAL TOOK A REAL HIT FOR EVEN THINKING ABOUT THIS. ARE YOU CONCERNED AT ALL THAT JUST THE DEBATE OVER THIS ISSUE IS GOING TO DISCOURAGE BUSINESSES FROM WANTING TO LOCATE IN IOWA?

Culver: I THINK IT'S NOT UNLIKE A LOT OF ISSUES, DAVID. THERE'S A LOT OF INFORMATION THAT HAS TO GET ON THE TABLE. IT'S LIKE THE CIGARETTE TAX. I FEEL VERY GOOD ABOUT THE FACT THAT OVER THE LAST COUPLE OF WEEKS I HAVE HELPED TO INFORM THE GENERAL PUBLIC ABOUT THE IMPACT THAT A DOLLAR A PACK WOULD HAVE. I THINK A HEALTHY DISCUSSION ON SOMETHING LIKE FAIR SHARE IS A GOOD THING. I THINK THE MORE SOME OF THESE BUSINESSES UNDERSTAND THAT WE'RE NOT TALKING ABOUT FORCED UNIONIZATION THAT THEY MIGHT BE MORE INCLINED TO SUPPORT IT. AND FINALLY ON THE MINIMUM WAGE, A LOT OF BUSINESSES IN OTHER STATES WOULD HAVE GOTTEN IN THE WAY OF A $7.25 MINIMUM WAGE PER HOUR. I COMMEND THE IOWA BUSINESSES FOR NOT DOING THAT. THIS PASSED IN AN OVERWHELMINGLY BIPARTISAN WAY.

Glover: GOVERNOR, WE'VE GOT WAY TOO MANY QUESTIONS, AND WE'RE GOING TO FLIP AROUND FROM TOPIC TO TOPIC. THERE'S A DEBATE UP IN THE LEGISLATURE CURRENTLY ABOUT THE STATE SEX ABUSE LAWS, MOST SPECIFICALLY ABOUT A REQUIREMENT IN THE LAW THAT SEX OFFENDERS CAN'T LIVE WITHIN 2,000 FEET OF SCHOOLS AND DAY CARE CENTERS. THERE'S DISCUSSION THAT THAT'S NOT WORKABLE AND NEEDS TO BE CHANGED. WHAT'S YOUR VIEW ON THAT?

Culver: I SUPPORT THE 2,000-FOOT RULE. I THINK PUBLIC SAFETY AND PROTECTING OUR CHILDREN NEEDS TO BE A VERY HIGH PRIORITY, AND AS GOVERNOR I WILL SEE THAT WE DO EVERYTHING WE CAN TO PROTECT OUR CHILDREN. I ALSO UNDERSTAND THAT THE LAW ENFORCEMENT COMMUNITY HAS SOME CHALLENGES WITH THE WAY THAT THIS BILL WAS WRITTEN. SO I AM INTERESTED IN BEING A PART OF THAT DISCUSSION. IF THEY CAN MAKE IT BETTER AND MORE EFFECTIVE AND STRONGER TO PROTECT OUR KIDS, THEN I'LL BE FOR THAT.

Glover: AND AS PART OF THAT DEBATE, DURING THE CAMPAIGN YOU SAID THAT YOU WOULD SUPPORT A LIMITED REINSTATEMENT OF THE DEATH SENTENCE FOR THE WORST CHILD SEX OFFENDERS OR MURDERERS. BUT THAT'S NOT BEEN MUCH OF A TOPIC SINCE THE ELECTION. IS THAT OFF THE TABLE?

Culver: IT'S UP TO THE LEGISLATURE IF THEY WANT TO PUT THAT ON THE CALENDAR FOR DISCUSSION AND DEBATE, AND IT DOES NOT SOUND LIKE THEY'RE GOING TO DO THAT.

Glover: BUT YOU'RE NOT GOING TO GO OUT OF YOUR WAY TO SEE IT HAPPEN?

Culver: CORRECT.

Yepsen: COMMERCIAL PROPERTY TAXES. YOU HAD A COMMITTEE THAT FORMED -- TO STUDY THIS PROBLEM. EVERYBODY AGREES THEY'RE TOO HIGH IN IOWA. THE COMMITTEE HAS SAID $25 MILLION. BUT IF YOU TAKE YOUR TAX PLAN OF COMBINED REPORTING FOR CORPORATIONS AND THE PROPERTY TAX INCREASES THAT ARE ALLOWED UNDER AN INCREASE IN THE ALLOWABLE GROWTH LAW, IT ELIMINATES THE $25 MILLION YOU WANT TO GIVE BUSINESSES IN COMMERCIAL PROPERTY TAX RELIEF. MY QUESTION, SIR, IS WHEN ARE WE GOING TO GET SERIOUS IN THE STATE ABOUT DEALING WITH THE WHOLE COMMERCIAL PROPERTY TAX QUESTION.

Culver: WELL, THAT'S A VERY FAIR QUESTION, DAVID. THIS IS A CHALLENGE, OBVIOUSLY. THE CURRENT PROPERTY TAX LAWS HAVE BEEN ON THE BOOKS FOR MORE THAN THIRTY YEARS, SO WE HAVE TO BE REALISTIC ABOUT THE FACT THAT IT'S GOING TAKE A LITTLE BIT OF TIME TO TACKLE IT. I FEEL VERY GOOD ABOUT THE PROGRESS WE'VE ALREADY MADE. I DID MAKE A COMMITMENT TO NEARLY 100,000 SMALL BUSINESSES OUT THERE THAT WE WOULD TRY TO GIVE THEM SOME RELIEF. THE PLAN THAT WE'VE COME UP WITH THAT WAS RECOMMENDED TO US BY THIS COMMISSION WILL DO THAT. WE'RE GOING TO TRY TO PUT AS MUCH AS $250 IN THE POCKETS OF UP TO 100,000 SMALL BUSINESSES THIS YEAR. THAT'S A START. IF NOTHING ELSE, IT SHOWS A GOOD-FAITH EFFORT TO GIVE THEM SOME RELIEF. THE COMMITTEE THEN ALSO RECOMMENDED THAT THE LEGISLATURE LOOK AT THIS OVER A LONGER PERIOD OF TIME AND COME BACK WITH SOME MORE SOLID RECOMMENDATIONS ON TOUGHER ISSUES, LIKE DECOUPLING AND THE OTHERS THAT YOU MENTIONED BY 2009. I WILL HELP MOVE THAT PROCESS ALONG.

Glover: AND IN YOUR BUDGET SPEECH, YOU TALKED ABOUT SPENDING AN ADDITIONAL $20 MILLION ON THE ENVIRONMENT, BUT IT SEEMS AS THOUGH THE SIGNATURE ISSUE WHEN YOU COME TO THE ENVIRONMENT REVOLVES AROUND LIVESTOCK CONFINEMENT OPERATIONS AND LOCAL CONTROL.

Culver: CORRECT.

Glover: WHERE ARE YOU ON LOCAL CONTROL?

Culver: I HAVE BEEN A SUPPORTER OF LOCAL CONTROL. I FEEL VERY GOOD ABOUT THE FACT THAT WE HAVE A NEW DIRECTOR AT THE DNR, RICH LEOPOLD, WHO IS A PERSON THAT CAN BRING EVERYONE TOGETHER. AND THAT'S ONE REASON I SELECTED RICH IS HE HAS THE ABILITY, HAVING WORKED IN THE WATER QUALITY AND ENVIRONMENTAL ARENA FOR MORE THAN TWENTY YEARS, TO REACH OUT AND BRING BOTH SIDES TOGETHER TO TRY TO FIGURE THIS OUT. AND I DO THINK THE LEGISLATURE SHOULD HAVE A DISCUSSION ABOUT THIS ISSUE AS WELL. AND WHAT I'VE TOLD PEOPLE ON BOTH SIDES OF THIS TOUGH ISSUE IS, NUMBER ONE, I THINK WE HAVE TO TAKE ADVANTAGE OF THE FACT THAT WE'RE A LIVESTOCK INDUSTRY LEADER IN THE NATION. THAT IS CRITICALLY IMPORTANT TO THE FUTURE OF OUR STATE'S GROWTH, AND I SUPPORT THAT. AT THE SAME TIME WE HAVE RESPONSIBILITY TO PROTECT THE ENVIRONMENT, AND I THINK WE CAN DO BOTH.

Glover: AND AS THE GOVERNOR, YOU CAN SET THE AGENDA UPSTAIRS. YOU CAN GO OUT OF YOUR WAY TO MAKE THINGS HAPPEN. WHAT WILL YOU DO TO MAKE THAT HAPPEN?

Culver: WELL, I STARTED BY PUTTING $20 MILLION IN THE BUDGET THAT WILL FOCUS ON WATER QUALITY, AND I'VE ALSO REACHED OUT TO LEADERS FROM THE FARM BUREAU TO CCI AND TO LEGISLATORS TO TALK ABOUT THE IMPORTANCE OF THIS ISSUE.

Yepsen: THE STATE'S ENVIRONMENTAL COMMUNITY ASKED YOU AND THE LEGISLATURE FOR A PERCENTAGE OF THE STATE SALES TAX REVENUES TO GO TO INFRASTRUCTURE REPAIRS AND PARKS AND WATER QUALITY PROJECTS. YOU DIDN'T INCLUDE THAT IN YOUR BUDGET. WHY NOT?

Culver: I PUT $20 MILLION INTO WATER QUALITY. WE'RE TRYING TO TACKLE A LOT OF DIFFERENT PRIORITIES HERE, AND I FEEL GOOD ABOUT OUR BALANCE COMMITMENT TO EDUCATION, HEALTH CARE, THE ENVIRONMENT, AND ENERGY. AND ONE OF MY BUDGETING PRINCIPLES WAS VERY CLEARLY SPELLED OUT. WE CANNOT DO EVERYTHING BUT WE CAN DO A LOT OF THINGS.

Glover: AND WE JUST LEARNED IN THE PAST FEW DAYS THAT IOWA STATE UNIVERSITY, WHICH HAD BEEN SEEKING A BIG RENEWABLE ENERGY PROJECT, IS NOT GOING TO GET IT. WHAT'S YOUR REACTION TO THAT? HOW BIG OF A BLOW IS THAT TO YOUR WHOLE IOWA POWER FUND CONCEPT?

Culver: WELL, I THINK THAT WE ARE GOING TO HAVE GREAT SUCCESS IN THE FUTURE. I THINK THAT THAT WAS A MISSED OPPORTUNITY FOR BP. THERE ARE OTHER MAJOR PLAYERS IN THIS COUNTRY THAT ARE LOOKING AT IOWA. I WILL CONTINUE TO MAKE --

Glover: SO THAT'S NOT GOING TO GET IN THE WAY OF WHAT YOU WANT TO DO?

Culver: NOT AT ALL. IT WILL NOT GET IN THE WAY AT ALL. AND WE HAVE SOME EXCITING IDEAS, AND THE FUTURE IS GOING TO BE VERY BRIGHT WHEN IT COMES TO GETTING CONTROL OF OUR ENERGY FUTURE IN THIS STATE. AND THERE ARE A LOT OF INTERESTED PARTIES, AND I'M SURE THAT OVER TIME WE'RE GOING TO CONTINUE TO ATTRACT MORE BUSINESS HERE.

Glover: AND YOU WANT $25 MILLION IN THIS BUDGET YEAR FOR YOUR IOWA POWER FUND. WHAT'S THAT GOING TO BE SPENT ON?

Culver: WELL, WE NEED TO FOCUS, MIKE, ON RESEARCH, DEVELOPMENT, AND COMMERCIALIZATION. WE ALREADY HAVE SOME OF THE BEST MINDS IN THE WORLD AT IOWA STATE AND UNI AND THE UNIVERSITY OF IOWA FOCUSING ON GREAT ALTERNATIVE ENERGY OPTIONS. LET'S HELP FURTHER THOSE IDEAS ALONG. LET'S TURN THEM INTO THE JOBS OF THE FUTURE. SO I THINK THE FIRST FOCUS OF THE IOWA POWER FUND NEEDS TO BE ON RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT. THEN WE CAN ALSO USE SOME OF THAT MONEY TO HELP CONSUMERS, FOR EXAMPLE, PURCHASE FLEX FUEL VEHICLES. LET'S GIVE THEM A TAX CREDIT. WE HAVE TO MOVE ALTERNATIVE ENERGY. WE HAVE TO MOVE ALTERNATIVE FUEL. LET'S REWARD CONSUMERS WHO HAVE A HOME EFFICIENCY AUDIT AND MAKE CHANGES IN TERMS OF CONSERVATION. AND WE CAN DO SO MUCH MORE TO ENCOURAGE IOWANS TO BE A PART OF THIS 21ST-CENTURY EXPEDITION. AND WE NEED TO PUT SOME INCENTIVES ON THE TABLE TO MAKE THAT HAPPEN.

Borg: THERE'S A PART OF THAT YOU COMMENTED DURING THIS PAST WEEK ABOUT THE PLANS FOR A LIGHT RAIL TRAIN BETWEEN IOWA CITY AND CEDAR RAPIDS, A COMMUTER TRAIN. ARE YOU GOING TO PUT SOME STATE DOLLARS INTO THAT?

Culver: NO. THAT WAS AN ISSUE THAT I COMMENDED THE CEDAR RAPIDS/IOWA CITY CORRIDOR FOR LOOKING AT, THE TRANSPORTATION ISSUES. THEY'RE TRYING TO CLOSE THE CORRIDOR THERE AND BUILD IT. I AM INTERESTED IN HAVING DISCUSSIONS ABOUT LIGHT RAIL AND TRANSPORTATION AND INFRASTRUCTURE NEEDS IN THE FUTURE. BUT RIGHT NOW WE'RE FOCUSED ON USING THE POWER FUND TO HELP CREATE THE BEST ENVIRONMENT IN THE NATION TO ATTRACT BUSINESS WHEN IT COMES TO LEADING THE WAY ON ALL FORMS OF ALTERNATIVE ENERGY. AND IT'S NOT JUST ALTERNATIVE FUEL. WE NEED TO INVEST SIGNIFICANT MONEY IN RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT RELATED TO BIOMASS, GEOTHERMAL, SOLAR. WE NEED TO BE AS DIVERSIFIED AS POSSIBLE WHEN IT COMES TO LEADING THE WAY ON THESE OPPORTUNITIES FOR OUR STATE.

Yepsen: GOVERNOR, SPEAKING OF IOWA CITY, BIG CONTROVERSY OVER THERE ABOUT THE SELECTION OF A NEW UNIVERSITY PRESIDENT. ARE THINGS BACK ON TRACK?

Culver: I THINK THEY'RE MAKING PROGRESS, AND I'M ANXIOUS TO HELP. AS THE NEW GOVERNOR, I WILL HAVE THE OPPORTUNITY TO APPOINT FOUR NEW MEMBERS TO THE BOARD OF REGENTS. THAT'S UNPRECEDENTED. I'LL BE ABLE TO DO THAT IN ABOUT A FOUR-MONTH PERIOD. AND I'M CONFIDENT THAT WE CAN FIND THE BEST PRESIDENT POSSIBLE AND HAVE A BOARD THAT SUPPORTS OUR REGENTS INSTITUTIONS.

Yepsen: YOU'VE GOT ONE OF THOSE APPOINTMENTS YOU CAN DO RIGHT NOW. REGENT BEDELL RESIGNED. YOU'VE GOT THAT VACANCY. ARE YOU GOING TO FILL THAT RIGHT AWAY?

Culver: I'M GOING TO BE MAKING AN ANNOUNCEMENT SOON ON THAT, YES.

Yepsen: WELL, WHO IS IT GOING TO BE?

Culver: WE'LL LET YOU KNOW IN THE NEAR FUTURE.

Glover: GOVERNOR, YOU TALKED A LITTLE BIT DURING YOUR CAMPAIGN ABOUT CUTTING BACK, FINDING AREAS TO SAVE WITHIN STATE GOVERNMENT, YET YOUR BUDGET CAME OUT WITH A 7.5-PERCENT INCREASE. WHERE ARE THESE CUTS YOU TALKED ABOUT?

Culver: WELL, WE ACTUALLY TALKED ABOUT SAVING MONEY BY BEING MORE EFFICIENT. AND OUR BUDGET HAS FOUND AN AREA WHERE WE CAN SAVE ROUGHLY $15 MILLION BY MORE EFFICIENTLY COLLECTING TAXES. THAT'S AN EXAMPLE OF WHAT'S POSSIBLE.

Glover: THAT'S YOUR TAX AMNESTY PROGRAM.

Culver: THAT'S THE TAX AMNESTY PROGRAM. IT'S ALSO A PROGRAM THAT WOULD USE TECHNOLOGY, MORE MODERN AND EFFICIENT TECHNOLOGY TO CATCH THOSE TAX CHEATS. BUT OVER A PERIOD OF TIME, I BELIEVE WE CAN SAVE TENS OF MILLIONS OF DOLLARS IN TERMS OF STRATEGIC PURCHASING FOR EXAMPLE, IN TERMS OF STREAMLINING INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY SYSTEMS AND STATE GOVERNMENT. WE HAVE ABOUT 15 DIFFERENT I.T. SYSTEMS RIGHT NOW. THE CHALLENGE, THOUGH, MIKE, IS THAT WILL TAKE SOME TIME TO SEE THOSE COST SAVINGS, BUT I'M VERY INTERESTED IN PUSHING FORWARD WHEN IT COMES TO MORE EFFICIENT GOVERNMENT. AND WE HAVE AT LEAST FOUND ONE EXAMPLE IMMEDIATELY OF WHERE WE CAN SAVE MILLIONS.

Yepsen: GOVERNOR, THIS IS YOUR FIRST APPEARANCE ON THE 'IOWA PRESS' SHOW AS GOVERNOR. ONE OF THE THINGS WE ALWAYS DO HERE IS TALK SOME POLITICS. WE HAVE A RACE FOR PRESIDENT IN THIS STATE, AND YET WE HAVE AN IOWAN IN THE RACE. WILL YOU STAY NEUTRAL IN THE PRESIDENTIAL RACE, OR WILL YOU ENDORSE GOVERNOR VILSACK?

Culver: I DO PLAN ON STAYING NEUTRAL IN THIS RACE. YOU KNOW, I AM A PROUD PROMOTOR OF THE IOWA CAUCUSES, LIKE YOU ARE. TO HAVE 16 DIFFERENT VERY CAPABLE, TALENTED CANDIDATES LOOKING TO SPEND SOME TIME IN IOWA FROM BOTH PARTIES, THAT'S A GREAT THING. I THINK GOVERNOR VILSACK HAS A LOT OF BUILT-IN ADVANTAGES. I THINK HE'S DONE A GREAT JOB. I THINK HIS CAMPAIGN IS ON TRACK. HE'S MAKING PROGRESS. BUT WE ALSO HAVE A LOT OF OTHER CANDIDATES SPENDING A LOT OF TIME IN THIS STATE, AND THAT'S GREAT FOR THE PEOPLE, MOST IMPORTANTLY. I THINK IT'S CRITICALLY IMPORTANT FOR THE VOTERS TO HAVE THAT TYPE OF ACCESS TO ALL THESE CANDIDATES, AND I'M LOOKING FORWARD TO PLAYING A ROLE IN TERMS OF ENCOURAGING MORE PEOPLE TO BE HERE AND TO SPEND QUALITY TIME HERE.

Yepsen: SO YOU'RE STAYING NEUTRAL?

Culver: YES.

Yepsen: WHAT ABOUT YOUR SPOUSE? YOU KNOW, GOVERNOR VILSACK STAYED NEUTRAL WHEN HE WAS GOVERNOR, BUT EVERYBODY KNEW WHERE HE REALLY WAS BECAUSE CHRISTIE VILSACK WAS FOR JOHN KERRY. SO WHERE IS MARI CULVER?

Culver: WELL, I'M SURE MARI WOULD LOVE TO BE ON THIS SHOW SOON, AND SHE'D PROBABLY LOVE TO TALK TO YOU ABOUT HER COMMITMENT TO SHELTER SERVICES ACROSS THE STATE.

Yepsen: I KNOW, BUT HER COMMITMENT IS NOT YOUR COMMITMENT ON THE PRESIDENTIAL --

Culver: YOU'LL HAVE TO ASK MY WIFE ABOUT WHAT HER PLANS ARE.

Glover: AND WHEN THIS THING STARTS TO UNFOLD AS THIS YEAR STARTS TO UNFOLD, MECHANICALLY WHAT ARE YOU GOING TO DO TO PROMOTE THIS DEBATE AMONG DEMOCRATS? ARE YOU GOING TO SPONSOR FORUMS? ARE YOU GOING TO BRING CANDIDATES IN? WHAT DO YOU PLAN TO DO?

Culver: WELL, I'VE ALREADY MET WITH SEVERAL CANDIDATES AND TALKED TO THEM ABOUT OUR STATE. AND I'VE TALKED TO NATIONAL REPORTERS AND USED THAT OPPORTUNITY TO NOT ONLY TALK ABOUT THE CAUCUSES AND THE DIFFERENT CANDIDATES IN THE FIELD BUT TO PROMOTE IOWA, TO TALK ABOUT MY DREAM OF CREATING AND HELPING DEVELOP THE ENERGY CAPITAL OF THE WORLD AND BECOMING THE FIRST STATE TO CUT FREE FROM OUR DEPENDENCE ON FOREIGN OIL. SO I WILL CONTINUE TO DO THINGS WHETHER IT'S IN THE FORM OF FORUMS OR TOWN HALL MEETINGS TO PROMOTE THOSE ISSUES AND TO INVITE OUR CANDIDATES TO DISCUSS THESE IMPORTANT ISSUES THAT IOWANS CARE A LOT ABOUT. SO I WILL BE VERY PUBLIC IN TERMS OF MY LEADERSHIP ROLES. AND IT MIGHT BE SOMETHING LIKE WHAT SENATOR HARKIN DID, FOR EXAMPLE, WITH HIS TOWN HALL MEETINGS DURING THE LAST CAUCUSES.

Glover: AND AS GOVERNOR, YOU ARE HEAD OF YOUR PARTY IN THIS STATE. THE BIGGEST ELECTION THAT IOWA DEMOCRATS HAVE NEXT YEAR IS TOM HARKIN, WHO IS UP FOR REELECTION. IS HE GOING TO GET A PASS THIS TIME?

Culver: TOM HARKIN IS A WINNER; THAT'S ALL I CAN TELL YOU. AND HE IS WORKING TIRELESSLY AS A UNITED STATES SENATOR, AND HE'S WORKING HARD ON HIS REELECTION BID RIGHT NOW. AND I'LL BE LOOKING FORWARD TO MEETING WITH SENATOR HARKIN LATER TODAY TO TALK ABOUT THE FARM BILL AND OTHER IMPORTANT ISSUES FACING OUR STATE.

Yepsen: GOVERNOR, THERE IS STILL A DEBATE ABOUT WHETHER IOWA WILL BE FIRST. AS YOU KNOW, NEW HAMPSHIRE IS STILL MAKING NOISES ABOUT MAYBE CHANGING THE DATE OF THE PRIMARY, WHICH DOES HAVE AN EFFECT ON IOWA LAW. YOU'VE BEEN THROUGH THIS AS SECRETARY OF STATE WITH THE NEW HAMPSHIRE FOLKS. WHAT STEPS WILL YOU TAKE TO KEEP IOWA FIRST?

Culver: WELL, I THINK IT STARTS WITH COMMUNICATION, AND MUCH OF THIS HAS TO BE A PARTY RESPONSIBILITY. I THINK THAT THE DEMOCRATIC NATIONAL COMMITTEE, THE REPUBLICAN NATIONAL COMMITTEE, AND OUR POLITICAL PARTIES IN NEW HAMPSHIRE AND IOWA, REPUBLICAN AND DEMOCRAT, HAVE TO KEEP THE LINES OF COMMUNICATION OPEN. I WILL DO WHAT I CAN TO FACILITATE THAT PROCESS. I'VE STARTED BY MAKING SURE THAT WE HAVE A VERY CAPABLE AND TALENTED STATE PARTY CHAIRMAN, AND SCOTT BRENNAN IS GOING TO BE A GREAT LEADER OF THE DEMOCRATIC PARTY. AND I'M SURE HE IS GOING TO BE ATTENDING THE UPCOMING MEETINGS THAT THE DNC IS SPONSORING TO TALK ABOUT THIS ISSUE.

Yepsen: IOWA LAW REQUIRES THAT THE CAUCUSES BE HELD EIGHT DAYS AHEAD OF ANY OTHER EVENT. IF NEW HAMPSHIRE MOVES THEIR PRIMARY INTO THE EARLY DAYS OF NEW HAMPSHIRE, SHOULD WE HAVE THE IOWA CAUCUSES IN LATE DECEMBER?

Culver: WE ARE GOING TO WORK WITH THE DEMOCRATIC NATIONAL COMMITTEE, WITH THE CANDIDATES FOR PRESIDENT, AND WE'RE GOING TO FOLLOW THE RULES, THE DNC RULES, AND WE'RE GOING TO HONOR OUR STATE LAWS. AND I HOPE THAT WE DON'T GET TO THAT POINT, BUT WE'LL HAVE TO SEE. IT'S TOO EARLY TO KNOW RIGHT NOW.

Borg: JUST A LITTLE NUTS AND BOLTS HERE. WHEN DO YOU MOVE INTO TERRACE HILL?

Culver: I MOVE WITH MY WIFE, MARI, AND JOHN AND CLARE, OUR TWO CHILDREN, A WEEK FROM TODAY. SO IT'S GOING TO BE A PRETTY EXCITING WEEKEND FOR US NEXT WEEK.

Borg: THANKS FOR SPENDING TIME WITH US TODAY.

Culver: THANK YOU SO MUCH.

Borg: WELL, THAT'S THIS WEEK'S EDITION OF 'IOWA PRESS.' I HOPE YOU'LL WATCH AGAIN NEXT WEEKEND. IT WILL BE THE REGULAR 'IOWA PRESS' AIRTIMES: 7:30 FRIDAY NIGHT; 11:30 SUNDAY MORNING. 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; AND BY THE ASSOCIATED GENERAL CONTRACTORS OF IOWA, THE PUBLIC'S PARTNER IN BUILDING IOWA'S HIGHWAY, BRIDGE, AND MUNICIPAL UTILITY INFRASTRUCTURE.


Tags: Chet Culver governors Iowa