Iowa Public Television

 

Gov. Terry Branstad

posted on June 7, 2013

NAME RECOGNITION.  TERRY BRANSTAD IOWA'S LONGEST SERVING GOVERNOR, FAMILIAR NAME ON REPUBLICAN BALLOTS, 2014, A CONVERSATION WITH GOVERNOR BRANSTAD AND A REPORTER'S ROUNDTABLE UPDATE ON THE STATE'S POLITICS.  IT'S ALL ON THIS EDITION OF IOWA PRESS.

Borg: GOVERNOR TERRY BRANSTAD'S IN-BOX IS STACKED NOW WITH LEGISLATION FROM THE RECENTLY ADJOURNED GENERAL ASSEMBLY.  HE'S SIGNING SOME OF THE HIGH PROFILE ACHIEVEMENTS INTO LAW, IN PUBLIC CEREMONIES AROUND THE STATE. BUT AS MR. BRANSTAD MAKES THOSE DECISIONS AND TRAVELS AROUND THE

STATE VIEWING FLOOD DAMAGE AND WIND POWER TOWERS AND OTHER THINGS, POLITICAL ANALYSTS ARE WATCHING CLOSELY FOR INDICATIONS OF HOW THE GOVERNOR IS VIEWING THE 2014 ELECTION YEAR.  WE'LL ASK HIM.  GOVERNOR BRANSTAD, WELCOME TO IOWA PRESS.

Branstad: GOOD MORNING, DEAN.

Borg: I'VE ALREADY GIVEN YOU ONE OF THE QUESTIONS.  ACROSS THE TABLE "DES MOINES REGISTER" POLITICAL COLUMNIST KATHIE OBRADOVICH AND KAY HENDERSON.

Henderson: GOVERNOR, MEMBER OF YOUR PARTY WHO CARE DEEPLY ABOUT THE ABORTION ISSUE INCLUDED LANGUAGE IN A BILL THAT ESSENTIALLY GIVES YOU VETO POWER OVER TAXPAYER FUNDED ABORTIONS IN THE MEDICAID PROGRAM FOR LOW INCOME WOMEN WHO HAVE AN ABORTION FOR RAPE, INCEST OR THE LIFE OF THE MOTHER OR FOR FETAL DEFORMITY.  WILL YOU APPROVE THAT LANGUAGE AND IF YOU DO, WILL YOU DO THE DECISIONS ON A CASE-BY-CASE BASIS OR SIMPLY A BLANKET BAN ON TAXPAYER FUNDED ABORTIONS?

Branstad: FIRST OF ALL WE'LL CAREFULLY REVIEW AND ANALYZE ALL THE BILLS BEFORE WE MAKE THE FINAL DECISION, SO THAT WILL BE SOMETHING WE'LL BE DECIDING THE NEXT COUPLE OF WEEKS.  BUT MY APPROACH HAS ALWAYS BEEN TO DO THINGS ON A CASE BY CASE BASIS. I WAS THE GOVERNOR IN THE 1980s WHEN ORGAN TRANSPLANTING JUST STARTED AND I HAD TO MAKE THE DECISIONS AND APPROVE WHETHER WE'D DO THOSE THINGS.  THOSE ARE VERY IMPORTANT DECISIONS AND THEY NEED TO BE DONE IN A VERY THOUGHTFUL WAY.  IOWA LAW IS VERY RESTRICTIVE ON THE USE OF TAXPAYER DOLLARS TO PAY FOR ABORTIONS.  VERY FEW OF THEM ARE FUNDED.  AND I WOULD LIKE TO SEE EVEN LESS FUNDED.  WE'RE GOING TO CAREFULLY LOOK AT THIS SITUATION AND IF I APPROVE IT AND I THINK IT'S LIKELY THAT I WILL, IT WILL BE DONE ON A CASE BY CASE BASIS.

Obradovich: DOESN'T THAT ADD AN ELEMENT OF POLITICS, THOUGH, INTO THIS DECISION MAKING?  IT'S DEPARTMENT OF HUMAN SERVICES THAT HAVE BEEN APPROVING THOSE DECISIONS FOR FUNDING, RIGHT?

Branstad: WELL, THE DEPARTMENT OF HUMAN SERVICES IS PART OF THE EXECUTIVE BRANCH OF GOVERNMENT, SO THEY REPORT TO ME AND SO I GUESS THEY JUST KICKED IT UPSTAIRS TO THE GOVERNOR'S OFFICE FOR THE FINAL DECISION.  AND I TAKE MY RESPONSIBILITY VERY SERIOUSLY.  AND WILL BE VERY CAREFUL.  I THINK THE DEPARTMENT HAS BEEN VERY THOUGHTFUL IN THE WAY THEY'VE MANAGED IT AND THAT'S WHAT WE WANT TO DO.  WE WANT TO STAY IN COMPLIANCE. REMEMBER, THIS IS A MEDICAID PROGRAM, AND WE HAVE TO STAND COMPLIANT WITH THE FEDERAL GUIDELINES AS WELL UNDER THE HEID AMENDMENT THERE ARE CERTAIN RESTRICTIONS IN IOWA LAW AND THE LEGISLATORS THOUGHT WE WOULD BE MORE STRINGENT.

Obradovich: IT SOUNDS LIKE YOU'RE LEANING TOWARDS SIGNING IT.

Branstad: I THINK SO.  GENERALLY BECAUSE I THINK THIS IS A COMPROMISE THAT WAS WORKED OUT IN THE LEGISLATIVE PROCESS.  AND THIS HAS BEEN A VERY STICKY ISSUE IN THE LEGISLATURE.  YOU MAY RECALL THEY WERE NOT ABLE TO COME TO AGREEMENT ON THIS LAST YEAR AND SO I FEEL AS THE CHIEF EXECUTIVE IT'S MY RESPONSIBILITY TO TRY TO MAKE THINGS WORK AND TO WORK WITH BOTH PARTIES IN BOTH HOUSES OF THE LEGISLATURE ON THIS AND TO WORK WITH THE PEOPLE WE HAVE IN THE DEPARTMENT OF HUMAN SERVICES AS WELL.

Obradovich: SPEAKING OF MEDICAID, ONE OF THE BIGGEST ISSUES, ONE OF THE BIGGEST CONTROVERSIES IN THE LEGISLATURE IS WHETHER THE STATE SHOULD TAKE MEDICAID EXPANSION FUNDING FOR ITS HEALTH CARE PROGRAM.  YOU THROUGHOUT THE SESSION WERE OPPOSED TO EXPANDING THE MEDICAID ROLE IN IOWA HEALTH CARE.  BUT IN THE END, THE STATE IS GOING TO TAKE 100% FUNDING FOR ITS HEALTH CARE PROGRAM.  IS THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT --

Branstad: WAIT, NO, NO.  WHAT WE AGREED ON IS THAT WE WOULD DO THE HEALTH AND WELLNESS PLAN.  OUR PLAN WAS THE HEALTHY IOWA PLAN, AND IF YOU ANALYZE WHAT PASSED THE LEGISLATURE IN THE END, IT'S MUCH CLOSER TO OUR

HEALTHY IOWA PLAN THAN JUST PLAIN 1960s STYLE MEDICAID EXPANSION.  THAT HASN'T WORKED.  WE'VE GOTTEN A LOT MORE PEOPLE ON MEDICAID BUT THE HEALTH RESULTS HAVE GOTTEN WORSE.  WE WANT TO DO THINGS -- WE WANT TO BE THE HEALTHIEST STATE IN THE NATION.  WE WANT TO DO THINGS THAT WILL MAKE IOWANS HEALTHIER AND THE PLAN WE'VE PUT TOGETHER WE THINK WILL MOVE US IN THAT DIRECTION.  IT DOES REQUIRE A WAIVER.  AND WE ARE WORKING FEVERISHLY TO GET THE WAIVER APPROVED.  WE THINK WE CAN BE A LEADER JUST LIKE WE WERE IN WELFARE REFORM, IN SHOWING OTHER STATES HOW IT CAN BE DONE, HOW WE CAN BE MORE EFFECTIVE IN HEALTH OUTCOMES, HOW WE CAN REDUCE THE COSTS.  PLUS WE ALSO SAID IF THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT INDEED REDUCES THE FUNDING, THE FIRST 5% REDUCTION IS GOING TO COME OUT OF THE HOSPITALS BECAUSE THEY WERE THE ONES THAT WERE THE STRONGEST ADVOCATES FOR THIS, SO THEY'RE GOING TO HAVE TO HAVE SOME SKIN IN THE GAME, TOO.

Obradovich: BUT A SIGNIFICANT AMOUNT OF MONEY FROM THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT IN THIS PLAN, MORE THAN YOU INITIALLY PROPOSED. AND ONE OF YOUR CONCERNS WAS THAT THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT CAN'T AFFORD IT.  HAVE YOU CHANGED YOUR MIND ABOUT THAT?

Branstad: WELL, THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT STILL HAS HUGE BUDGET PROBLEMS.  THEY HAVEN'T PASSED THE BUDGET IN THE LAST FOUR YEARS.  THEY'RE SPENDING A TRILLION DOLLARS MORE THAN THEY'RE TAKING IN AND THEY'RE GOING TO HAVE TO ADDRESS THEIR MASSIVE DEFICITS WHICH ARE DRIVEN PRIMARILY BY THESE ENTITLEMENT PROGRAMS, MEDICARE, MEDICAID, AND SOCIAL SECURITY.  PLUS INTEREST ON THE NATIONAL DEBT.  THE NATIONAL DEBT'S APPROACHING $17 TRILLION AND EVERY 1% INTEREST RATES GO UP WILL COST AN ADDITIONAL $170 BILLION A YEAR TO FINANCE THIS NATIONAL DEBT, SO THE COUNTRY'S GOT BIG PROBLEMS AND WE DON'T WANT TO BE STUCK WITH SOMETHING THAT'S UNAFFORDABLE.

Borg: WELL, DO YOU STILL, THE QUESTION THAT KATHIE'S GETTING AT, HAVE YOU CHANGED YOUR MIND ON THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT BEING A DEPENDABLE PARTNER?

Branstad: NO, I AM NOT CONCERNED.  I AM VERY CONCERNED ABOUT THAT.  BUT WE DON'T HAVE ANY CHOICE.  WE -- OBAMA CARE WAS APPROVED BY THE SUPREME COURT AND SO WE HAVE CHOSEN TO DO THE EXCHANGE AS PART OF THAT AND A PARTNERSHIP WITH THEM.  WE HAVE GREAT MISGIVINGS ABOUT WHETHER THEY HAVE THE ABILITY TO FOLLOW THROUGH AND MAKE THIS GO.  I THINK IF YOU FOLLOW THE SURVEYS, PUBLIC OPINION IS GROWING STRONGER AND STRONGER AGAINST OBAMA CARE.  THEY'RE STARTING TO SEE THE TAX AND ALL OF THE REGULATORY PROBLEMS THAT EXIST WITH IT.  PLUS, THE GREAT EXPANSION OF THE IRS AND THE IRS IS IN TERRIBLE DISREPUTE, SO NEVERTHELESS THIS IS IOWA.  WE LIKE TO SOLVE PROBLEMS.  WE HAVE THE GOAL OF BEING THE HEALTHIEST STATE, SO WE'RE TRYING TO DEVELOP AN IOWA PLAN THAT WE HOPE WILL -- THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT WILL APPROVE OUR WAIVER SO WE CAN GO FORWARD WITH SOMETHING WE THINK CAN BE WORKABLE.

Borg: I WANT TO GO FORWARD HERE INTO SOMETHING ELSE THAT WAS A HIGH PROFILE PRIORITY OF YOURS AND THAT IS EDUCATION REFORM.  TWO ASPECTS OF THAT YOU WERE FAIRLY INSISTENT ON, TEACHER EVALUATION IMPROVEMENTS AS YOU WOULD SEE THEM.

Branstad: YES.

Borg: AND STUDENT ASSESSMENT ACHIEVEMENT ASSESSMENT.  THOSE WERE NOT ENACTED.  THEY'RE GOING TO STUDY COMMITTEE.  IS THAT A DISAPPOINTMENT TO YOU?

Branstad: WE'D LIKE TO SEE IT MOVE MORE AND MORE AGGRESSIVELY.  BUT THIS IS A SIGNIFICANT STEP FORWARD.  RON JORGENSON WHO IS CHAIRMAN OF THE COMMITTEE IN THE HOUSE WORKED VERY HARD TO GET MORE ACCOUNTABILITY IN THE BILL.  WE WORKED WITH HIM AND WE WERE APPRECIATIVE OF THOSE EFFORTS.  OBVIOUSLY IT ENDS UP BEING A COMPROMISE.  BUT THIS BILL IS A LANDMARK PIECE OF LEGISLATION THAT I THINK WILL BE A TURNING POINT FOR IOWA.  WE HAVE BEEN STAGNANT FOR TOO LONG.  OTHER STATES HAVE MOVED PAST US ON STUDENT ACHIEVEMENT.  I THINK IT WILL MOVE US FORWARD.  I THINK IT'S CRITICALLY IMPORTANT IN THE IMPLEMENTATION THAT WE DO ALL WE CAN TO PERFECT AND IMPROVE AND MONITOR THE PROGRESS AS WE PHASE THIS IN OVER THE NEXT FIVE YEARS.

Henderson: ONE OF THE TAX ISSUES THAT LEGISLATORS TALKED ABOUT BUT SET ASIDE WAS THE GAS TAX.  AS YOU COME BACK IN 2014 WITH LEGISLATORS, IS THAT A TAX THAT YOU'LL HAVE TO ADDRESS?

Branstad: WELL, YOU KNOW, WITH THE HIGH COST OF GASOLINE, WHICH IS, YOU KNOW, SPIKED NEARLY $4 A GALLON HERE, EVEN HIGHER IN MINNESOTA AND ILLINOIS, I BELIEVE -- AND ALSO WITH THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT PUSHING FOR MORE AND MORE EFFICIENT VEHICLES AND PEOPLE MOVING TO HYBRID VEHICLES AND ELECTRIC VEHICLES AND NOW USING NATURAL GAS FOR TRUCKS, I THINK WE NEED TO LOOK FOR A WHOLE NEW SOURCE. I THINK INSTEAD OF LOOKING AT THE GAS AND DIESEL FUEL TAX WHICH IS GOING TO BE A DIMINISHING SOURCE OF REVENUE IN THE FUTURE, WE'RE GOING TO HAVE TO LOOK AT A DIFFERENT WAY TO PROVIDE FUNDING FOR THE ROAD USE TAX FUND.

Henderson: SUCH AS?

Branstad: SO -- WE USED TO EARMARK 10% OF TWO CENTS OF THE SALES BEFORE 1975 FOR THE ROAD USE TAX FUND.  WE ALSO HAVE THIS INFRASTRUCTURE MONEY THAT GETS SUBSTANTIAL MONEY FROM THE GAMBLING INDUSTRY.  I'M ASKING THE DIRECTOR OF TRANSPORTATION TO LOOK AT ALL ALTERNATIVES AND DIFFERENT WAYS THAT WE CAN FUND IT AND CONSIDER OTHER THINGS THAT WE THINK WOULD BE MORE RELIABLE IN THE FUTURE THAN THE GAS TAX.  I THINK THE GAS TAX IN THIS ENVIRONMENT, THE PUBLIC DOESN'T WANT TO SEE THE COST OF GASOLINE GO UP ANY MORE.  THEY'VE SEEN THESE DRAMATIC SPIKES AND THERE'S NOT PUBLIC SUPPORT FOR THAT.  SO, I THINK WE NEED TO LOOK AT OTHER ALTERNATIVES.

Obradovich: THE WAY YOU TALK ABOUT THE ROAD CONSTRUCTION COMMUNITY, THOUGH, THEY ARE VERY INVESTED IN KEEPING THE SORT OF SANCTITY OF THE ROAD USE TAX FUND WHICH IS CONSTITUTIONALLY PROTECTED, THEY DON'T LIKE MIXING IN OTHER SOURCES OF FUNDING BECAUSE THEY'RE WORRIED ABOUT THE ARGUMENT OF KIDS VERSUS CONCRETE.  YOU PUT THOSE ROAD DOLLARS IN COMPETITION WITH SCHOOLS AND OTHER PRIORITIES AND THEY FEEL LIKE THEY LOSE IN THAT CASE.  HOW DO YOU DEAL WITH THOSE ALLIES IN GETTING ROAD CONSTRUCTION DONE IN DEALING WITH THE CHANGE IN FUNDING?

Branstad: WELL, I THINK YOU HAVE TO BE REALISTIC, AND I THINK THAT HAVE TO COME TO THE REALIZATION THAT THEY DON'T HAVE PUBLIC SUPPORT TO RAISE THE GAS TAX.  AND IT'S PROBABLY NOT GOING TO HAPPEN IN AN ELECTION YEAR.  SO, IF THEY WANT TO GET ADDITIONAL FUNDING, THEY'RE GOING TO HAVE TO BE WILLING TO LOOK AT DIFFERENT WAYS TO DO IT.  NOW, I UNDERSTAND THEIR INTEREST OF HAVING IT PROTECTED IN THE ROAD USE TAX FUND BUT WE USED TO EARMARK 10% OF TWO CENTS OF THE SALES TAX EVERY YEAR UNTIL 1975.  AND THAT WAS DISCONTINUED.  I WAS IN THE LEGISLATURE WHEN THAT HAPPENED.  SO, THAT IS ONE SOURCE THAT WAS USED HISTORICALLY.  WE ALSO DID NOT HAVE THE REBUILD IOWA INFRASTRUCTURE FUND.  NOW, THIS IS INFRASTRUCTURE.  THERE IS SUBSTANTIAL MONEY GOING INTO THAT.  UNFORTUNATELY, $55 MILLION A YEAR IS COMING OFF THE TOP TO PAY BACK THE -- TO PAY FOR THESE EYE JOBS WHICH I THINK WAS A BIG FIASCO UNDER THE PREVIOUS ADMINISTRATION.

Borg: I'M SORRY TO INTERRUPT, WE HAVE MORE QUESTIONS THAN WE HAVE TIME AND I'VE GOT TO MOVE ALONG.

Branstad: THAT'S USUALLY THE WAY IT IS.

Borg: ARE YOU SATISFIED WITH THE PROPERTY TAX REVISIONS AND IS THAT A CLOSED SUBJECT?

Branstad: IT'S NOT A CLOSED SUBJECT BUT IT'S A HUGE STEP FORWARD.  IT'S THE BIGGEST PROPERTY TAX REDUCTION IN PROPERTY HISTORY.  WE'LL SEE COMMERCIAL AND PROPERTY TAXES GO DOWN AT LEAST 10% OVER THE NEXT 2 YEARS AND IT'S GOING TO ALSO PROVIDE SOME INCOME TAX RELIEF AND IT'S GOING TO PROVIDE ADDITIONAL PROPERTY TAX RELIEF FOR SOME OF THE SMALLER PROPERTY OWNERS.  AND IT ALSO PROTECTS ALL CLASS OF PROPERTY BUT FULLY FUND –

Borg: IS THERE MORE TO DO?

Branstad: OH, YEAH, THERE'S MORE TO DO AND I WOULD LIKE TO SEE US DO MORE IN THE FUTURE BUT THIS WAS THE ART OF WHAT WAS POSSIBLE TO GET ACCOMPLISHED WITH THIS GENERAL ASSEMBLY.  BUT I'M PROUD TO SAY THAT WE WERE ABLE TO GET BROAD BIPARTISAN SUPPORT.  THIS IS A VERY SIGNIFICANT STEP FORWARD.  WE'VE BEEN WORKING HARD FOR THIS FOR THREE YEARS.

Henderson: OTHER STATES HAVE BEEN REDUCING THEIR INCOME TAXES.  DO YOU PLAN TO PROPOSE AN INCOME TAX CUT IN 2014?

Branstad: I THINK IT'S VERY LIKELY WE'LL BE LOOKING AT REDUCING THE INCOME TAX FURTHER.  WHEN I BECAME GOVERNOR, THE INCOME TAX RATE IN IOWA WAS 13%.  WE NOW HAVE IT DOWN TO 8.98% PLUS WE HAVE FULL FEDERAL DEDUCTIBILITY.  WE CAN CONTRAST THAT WITH MINNESOTA WHICH JUST RAISED THEIR TOP TAX TO 9.5% AND THEY DON'T HAVE FEDERAL DEDUCTIBILITY.  REMEMBER, THE TOP FEDERAL TAX IS 39.5% SO THE EFFECTIVE RATE IN IOWA IS ONLY 5.5% WE'D LIKE TO SEE IT GO LOWER.  AND I THINK THAT IN THE FUTURE AND THERE'S DIFFERENT ALTERNATIVES THAT WE HAVE LOOKED AT --

Henderson: WHEN ARE WE GOING TO TELL US WHAT ALTERNATIVE YOU FAVOR?  TODAY?

Branstad: IT WOULD PROBABLY BE IN THE STATE OF THE STATE ADDRESS IN 2014.  BUT WE'RE GOING TO HAVE TO STUDY THIS FURTHER, BUT I THINK THERE'S A LOT OF INTEREST AND WE SEE ACTIVITY.  I MEAN, THOSE STATES THAT REALLY WANT TO GROW AND ATTRACT BUSINESS AND JOBS ARE LOOKING AT REDUCING THE TAX BURDEN AND THEN YOU GOT OTHER STATES LIKE ILLINOIS AND MINNESOTA THAT ARE GOING THE WRONG DIRECTION AND THEY'RE THE HAPPY HUNTING GROUNDS THAT WANT GOOD JOBS.

Borg: I'M GOING TO POP THE QUESTION RIGHT NOW.  FORECAST EARLIER.  ARE YOU GOING TO SEEK RE-ELECTION?

Branstad: WELL, I'M NOT GOING TO MAKE THAT DECISION UNTIL 2014.  I LOVE THIS JOB.  I'M PROUD OF THE PROGRESS THAT LIEUTENANT GOVERNOR KIM REYNOLDS AND I ARE MAKING.  AND WE'RE LAYING THE GROUNDWORK.  WE'RE -- YOU KNOW, BUT I WON'T MAKE A FINAL DECISION UNTIL 2014.  THE FILING DEADLINE IS IN MARCH.

Henderson: SO, WHAT IS THE MONEY THAT YOU'VE BEEN RAISING TO BE USED FOR IF NOT A CAMPAIGN?

Branstad: WELL, WE'RE LAYING THE GROUNDWORK FOR A CAMPAIGN.  IF I DON'T RUN, I'M CONFIDENT THE LIEUTENANT GOVERNOR WILL.  BUT I THINK IT'S VERY LIKELY WE'RE GOING TO KEEP THIS TEAM TOGETHER BECAUSE WE LOVE WORKING TOGETHER.  I THINK WE'VE MADE GREAT PROGRESS.  AND WE THINK THAT THERE'S STILL A LOT MORE TO DO.

Obradovich: GOVERNOR, YOU'RE 66.  IF YOU DO RUN, YOU'LL BE IN YOUR 70s BY THE TIME YOU HAVE FINISHED A FOUR-YEAR TERM.  DO YOU FEEL RIGHT NOW LIKE YOU'RE HEALTHY ENOUGH TO DO THAT WORK FOR THE NEXT FOUR OR FIVE YEARS?

Branstad: I DO.  I TAKE MY HEALTH VERY SERIOUSLY.  I'M PROUD TO SAY THAT I FEEL THAT I'VE GOT A LOT OF ENERGY.  I THINK I WORK HARDER THAN A LOT OF PEOPLE HALF MY AGE AND I'VE GOT A RECORD OF GOING TO EVERY COUNTY EVERY YEAR, STAYING IN TOUCH WITH PEOPLE.  I THINK ALSO PEOPLE APPRECIATE HAVING A GOVERNOR WITH EXPERIENCE.  AND WHAT I'VE GAINED THROUGH EXPERIENCE IS PATIENCE AND TENACITY TO SEE THINGS THROUGH.  AND NOT BE TOO QUICK TO SLAM THE DOOR ON SOMETHING.  THIS SESSION IT TOOK A LOT OF PATIENCE TO SEE THROUGH, BUT BECAUSE WE HAD A VERY FOCUSED AGENDA AND BECAUSE WE KEPT WORKING RIGHT UP TO THE END WE GOT PROPERTY TAX RELIEF, INCOME TAX REFORM AND OUR HEALTHY AND WELLNESS PLAN APPROVED.  I THINK THAT WAS A TREMENDOUS ACCOMPLISHMENT.  GOES DOWN AS A HISTORIC SESSION.  I'M APPRECIATIVE OF THE BIPARTISAN SUPPORT WE GOT.  WE PROVED IN IOWA WE CAN WORK TOGETHER AND SOLVE PROBLEMS EVEN WITH A SPLIT LEGISLATURE.

Borg: YOU'VE MENTIONED HEALTH, HEALTH, HEALTH MANY TIMES YOU SEEM TO BE PREOCCUPIED FOR THAT AS WE ALL SHOULD BE.

Branstad: I THINK WE HAVE ALL HAVE TO BE.

Borg: IF YOU RUN, WILL YOU RELEASE PHYSICAL EXAMINATION HEALTH RECORDS?

Branstad: THOSE THINGS ARE PRIVATE UNDER THE HIPAA LAW.  I'M PROBABLY AS OPEN AS ANYBODY IS AND I WILL CERTAINLY REPORT TO PEOPLE, BUT I AM NOT GOING TO JUST TURN OVER ALL MY DOCTORS' RECORDS, NO, I DON'T THINK -- I DON'T KNOW OF ANYBODY THAT'S DONE THAT.  I DON'T THINK THAT'S APPROPRIATE.  BUT MY HEALTH IS GOOD.  AND I HAVE STAYED IN CLOSE TOUCH WITH MY PHYSICIANS, AND I WANT TO MAKE SURE THAT THE PEOPLE OF IOWA KNOW EXACTLY -- AND I THINK PEOPLE CAN LOOK AT ME AND SEE HOW MUCH -- HOW ACTIVE MY CAMPAIGN -- HOW ACTIVE MY SCHEDULE IS AND ALL THE THINGS I DO, THE EXERCISES.  I'M ALSO REALLY FOCUSING NOW ON BETTER NUTRITION AS WELL AS EXERCISE.  ALL THOSE THINGS ARE IMPORTANT.

Henderson: SO, IF YOU RUN AND SEEK ANOTHER TERM, WIN IT, WILL YOU SERVE THE ENTIRE TERM?

Branstad: FIRST OF ALL, I HAVEN'T EVEN MADE THE FINAL DECISION ON RUNNING.  I'M NOT GOING TO START SPECULATING WAY INTO THE FUTURE.  I JUST LOVE WHAT I'M DOING.  I THINK WE GOT A GREAT TEAM.  I ALSO KNOW YOU DON'T DO THIS BY YOURSELF.  I GIVE A LOT OF CREDIT TO THE PEOPLE ON THE STAFF AND THE DEPARTMENT HEADS.  WE'VE PUT A GREAT TEAM TOGETHER AND MADE GREAT PROGRESS.  WE'VE REDUCED THE COST OF GOVERNMENT AND WE'VE GOT THE FINANCIAL HOUSE IN ORDER AND WE'RE FOCUSING ON JOBS.  WE'VE HAD THREE RECORD-SETTING ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT PROJECTS ANNOUNCED HERE IN THE LAST YEAR.

Obradovich: LET ME ASK YOU ABOUT THAT VERY BRIEFLY.  GIVE US A REPORT CARD ON YOUR PROMISE TO CREATE 200,000 NEW JOBS IN IOWA AND ALSO TO REDUCE THE COST OF GOVERNMENT BY 15%.

Branstad: WE INHERITED A STRUCTURAL DEFICIT OF ABOUT 15%.  WE'VE WIPED OUT THE STRUCTURAL DEFICIT.  WE RESTORED THE MONEY IN THE ECONOMIC EMERGENCY ACCOUNT.  WE'RE SPENDING LESS THAN WE'VE TAKEN IN.  WE'VE DONE SO WELL IN TERMS OF FISCAL MANAGEMENT THAT OUR STATE AUDITOR WAS CHOSEN TO HEAD UP GASB FOR THE WHOLE NATION.  THAT SHOWS THAT WE'VE DONE GOOD THINGS FINANCIALLY.

Henderson: BUT HAVE YOU CUT THE SIZE OF GOVERNMENT?

Branstad: WELL, WE'RE DOWN 1,000 EMPLOYEES FROM THE DAY I TOOK OFFICE.

Henderson: BUT ISN'T THE STATE BUDGET BIGGER NEXT YEAR THAN IT IS THIS YEAR?

Branstad: BUT WE TOOK A STRUCTURAL DEFICIT OF 15% AND HAVE REDUCED IT AND LOOK AT WHERE THE MONEY IS GOING.  IT'S GOING TO DIRECT PROPERTY TAX RELIEF THAT'S REDUCING TAXES FOR IOWA PROPERTY TAXPAYERS AND IT'S ALSO GOING TO DEVELOP A WHOLE NEW STRUCTURE FOR THE WAY WE FUND EDUCATION TO MAKE TEACHING MORE ATTRACTIVE AND ATTRACT HIGH ACHIEVERS TO THE TEACHING PROFESSION.

Obradovich: QUICKLY, WHAT'S THE COUNT ON JOB CREATION TO DATE?

Branstad: WE'VE CREATED OVER 100,000 JOBS, THE UNEMPLOYMENT RATE IN IOWA IS THE FIFTH LOWEST IN THE COUNTRY AND THE UNEMPLOYMENT RATE WHICH WAS ABOVE 6% IS DOWN TO 4.7%.  WE'RE NOT SATISFIED.  WE'RE GOING TO KEEP WORKING HARD AND WE'VE SET RECORD AFTER RECORD IN TERMS OF CAPITAL INVESTMENTS IN THIS STATE.  I'M EXCITED ABOUT THE CHINESE DECIDING TO BUY SMITHFIELD BECAUSE I THINK THEY'RE GOING TO INVEST MORE, CREATE MORE JOBS, BIGGER DEMAND FOR PORK, AND OBVIOUSLY OUR RELATIONSHIP WITH CHINA IS A GREAT ASSET FOR THE STATE OF IOWA.  MY PERSONAL RELATIONSHIP I THINK IS SOMETHING THAT WILL BE A GREAT ASSET IN IOWA'S FUTURE AS WELL.

Henderson: WHAT SENATE CANDIDATE ARE YOU ENCOURAGING TO RUN, JUMP IN THE RACE?

Branstad: I'M ENCOURAGING ALL REPUBLICANS.  I THINK WE NEED AN IOWA PROBLEM SOLVER, WHAT THE DEMOCRATS WILL HAVE IS A WASHINGTON, D.C., CONGRESSMAN WHO HAS SPENT HIS ENTIRE POLITICAL CAREER IN D.C. THEY'VE NEVER BALANCED A BUDGET.  HE WAS THE AUTHOR OF CASH FOR CLUNKERS AND HE DIDN'T SUPPORT THE FREE TRADE AGREEMENTS.  I THINK WE NEED AN IOWAN WHO HAS STATE AND LOCAL EXPERIENCE.

Henderson: SO DO EITHER OF THE PEOPLE WHO HAVE ANNOUNCED FULFILL THAT BILL?

Branstad: I THINK THERE'S GOING TO BE MORE PEOPLE ANNOUNCED.  I THINK WE'LL HAVE SOME EXCITING QUALITY CANDIDATES. ONE FROM SOUTHWEST IOWA, JOANIE ERNST, OFFICER IN THE IOWA NATIONAL GUARD AND SERVED IN IRAQ AND THE LOCAL GOVERNMENT AND STATE GOVERNMENT, SHE'S ONE I MET WITH AND ENCOURAGED.  THERE ARE OTHERS.  I'M JUST EXCITED ABOUT IT.  WE'VE NEVER HAD A WOMAN SENATOR FROM IOWA.  I THINK SHE'S A PROSPECT THAT COULD DO IT.

Obradovich: GOVERNOR, THERE'S BEEN MANY CONTROVERSIES HERE IN IOWA AMONG THE FANS OF THE "FLOPPY SHOW" BECAUSE THE STATE HISTORICAL MUSEUM IS SENDING HIM TO THE DOGHOUSE.  I'M SURE PEOPLE ARE ASKING YOU ABOUT THIS OR THEY WILL BE AS YOU TRAVEL.  WHAT DO YOU THINK, SHOULD HE BE RETIRED FROM THE STATE HISTORICAL MUSEUM?

Branstad: I DON'T THINK HE'LL BE RETIRED.  AS A TEMPORARY BASIS, THEY'RE DOING A SPECIAL DISPLAY ABOUT RAGBRAI, SO I WOULD GUESS THAT FLOPPY WILL BE BACK BY POPULAR DEMAND.

Obradovich: BY POPULAR DEMAND.

Borg: I THINK IT'S TIME SINCE WE COVERED FLOPPY, I THINK WE HAVE MORE QUESTIONS, BUT WE'LL END ON FLOPPY AND THANK YOU VERY MUCH, GOVERNOR, FOR BEING OUR GUEST TODAY.

Branstad: YOU BET.  THANK YOU VERY MUCH.

Borg: AND WE'LL BE CONTINUING IOWA PRESS IN JUST A MOMENT WITH THE REPORTERS ROUNDTABLE.

CONTACT THE IOWA PRESS STAFF ONLINE AT OUR WEBSITE OR E-MAIL US AT IOWAPRESS@ITPV.ORG.

Borg: LEE NEWSPAPERS CAPITOL BUREAU CHIEF MIKE WISER JOINS US.  AS YOU WRITE YOUR STORY, WHAT'S THE LEAD?

Wiser: I GOT TO SAY I THINK THE FIRST THING THAT JUMPED OUT WAS THE GAS TAX OR ACTUALLY THE GOVERNOR'S INSISTENCE OF A FUEL TAX HIKE IS NOT THE WAY TO GO AND HE'S ALREADY LOOKING AT NEW IDEAS MAKING TAKING A PERCENTAGE OF THE SALES TAX AND MAYBE PUTTING IT INTO THE BUDGET.  THIS WILL ALLEVIATE A LOT OF THE PRESSURE ON LAWMAKERS RUNNING IN 2014 IF THEY DON'T HAVE TO VOTE OR MAKE A DECISION ON A FUEL TAX HIKE.

Obradovich: EXCEPT THAT IT MAY INCREASE PRESSURE IN ONE WAY BECAUSE THE INTEREST GROUPS THAT CONTRIBUTE TO LAWMAKERS AND WHO HAVE A BIG STAKE IN THIS ROAD FIGHT DON'T NECESSARILY -- THEY HAVEN'T IN THE PAST LIKED THE IDEA OF GETTING AWAY FROM GAS TAX TO FUND ROADS.  THEY WANT TO MAINTAIN THE SANCTITY OF THE ROAD USE TAX FUND WHICH IS CONSTITUTIONALLY PROTECTED, THEY DON'T WANT TO MIX THE FUNDING STREAMS, SO THAT'S WHY THEY'VE BEEN FOUR SQUARE BEHIND RAISING THE GAS TAX IN THE PAST.

Henderson: I WAS ALSO STRUCK THAT HE'S THINKING ABOUT AN INCOME TAX CUT PROPOSAL IN JANUARY 2014.  HE'S THINKING ABOUT ALL THESE ITEMS ON THE AGENDA FOR 2014 AND THE YEAR IN WHICH HE'S LIKELY, PROBABLY SEEKING RE-ELECTION.  HE'S ALREADY SHIFTED FOCUS TO 2014 WHICH I THINK VIEWERS JUST SAW.

Borg: MIKE, ANYTHING ELSE IN THAT CONVERSATION THAT JUMPED OUT AT YOU OTHER THAN THE GAS TAX AND THE FACT THAT MAYBE WE NEED TO LOOK AHEAD BECAUSE GOVERNOR BRANSTAD IS LOOKING AHEAD TO RE-ELECTION AND THIS PAST WEEK WE SAW GOVERNOR – FORMER GOVERNOR TOM VILSACK TAKE HIS NAME OUT.  IS THAT IN ANY WAY DO YOU THINK INFLUENCED WHETHER GOVERNOR BRANSTAD GOES AHEAD?

Wiser: I DON'T KNOW.  MY FEELING OR MY GUT WOULD BE THAT GOVERNOR BRANSTAD WAS GOING TO RUN FOR RE-ELECTION OR NOT RUN FOR RE-ELECTION BASED ON WHAT HE WANTED TO DO.  HE'S ALREADY SET UP A CAMPAIGN.  AS YOU HAVE POINTED OUT, HE'S COLLECTING MONEY AND HE'S GOT A FULL-TIME CAMPAIGN WORKER AND HE'S ALSO TALKING ABOUT SOME OF THE OTHER RACES.  HE MENTIONED JOANIE ERNST AS SOMEONE THAT MIGHT FIT HIS CRITERIA.

Henderson: IT SEEMED TO BE A NEAR FULL THROATED ENDORSEMENT OF JOANIE ERNST WHICH I FOUND INTERESTING BECAUSE THE CRITERIA WHICH HE HAS NOW SET AS THE RESUME FOR THE GOP SENATE CANDIDATE IS NOT FULFILLED BY DAVID YOUNG WHO IS SENATOR GRASSLEY'S FORMER CHIEF OF STAFF.  HE ANNOUNCED HIS CANDIDACY LAST WEEKEND BECAUSE DAVID YOUNG SPENT HIS PROFESSIONAL CAREER IN WASHINGTON, D.C.. THE OTHER THING THAT'S HAPPENED ON THE POLITICAL SCENE THIS WEEK IS THAT ON MONDAY MATT WHITAKER A FORMER UNITED STATES ATTORNEY THREW HIS HAT IN THE RING FOR THE SENATE.  I THOUGHT HIS REFERENCE TO JOANIE ERNST WAS CURIOUS.

Obradovich: YOU KNOW, THE GOVERNOR HAS NOT HAD A GREAT TRACK RECORD RECENTLY IN GETTING HIS FAVORITES CHOSEN FOR POSITIONS IN THE REPUBLICAN PARTY.  HIS FAVORITE DIDN'T END UP BEING THE CHAIRMAN OF THE IOWA REPUBLICAN PARTY. HE HAD INDICATED SOME FAVORITES IN SOME SPECIAL ELECTIONS WHO ENDED UP NOT GETTING NOMINATED, SO, YOU KNOW, IF HE DOES KIND OF NUDGE AND PUSH JOANIE ERNST SHE MIGHT WANT TO THINK ABOUT THE FACT THAT, YOU KNOW, IT MAY NOT BE EXACTLY A WAY TO GET THROUGH A PRIMARY.

Borg: WE ALSO SAW SOME POLLING ON THE APPROVAL RATING THIS PAST WEEK, MIKE.  FOR GOVERNOR BRANSTAD.

Wiser: ABSOLUTELY.  AND I THINK, YOU KNOW, THE GOVERNOR HAS TO BE -- WITH THE NAME RECOGNITION, HE'S PROBABLY THE BEST KNOWN POLITICIAN IN THE STATE AT LEAST ON THE STATEWIDE LEVEL.  AND THE POLL FROM QUINNIPIAC UNIVERSITY ALSO POLLED SOME OF HIS -- SOME OF THE OTHER CANDIDATES IN THE RACE.  BRUCE BRALEY WHO IS RUNNING FOR A SENATE CAMPAIGN TO SUCCEED TOM HARKIN POLLS HIGH.  AND I THINK GOVERNOR BRANSTAD DID WAY BETTER THAN ANY OF THE OTHER DEMOCRATS WE'VE HEARD MENTIONED.

Henderson: ONE OF THE THINGS ABOUT THE POLL THAT I THINK THE GOVERNOR SHOULD CONSIDER AND COME UP WITH A WAY TO ANSWER THIS QUESTION BECAUSE HE'S GOING TO GET ASKED ON THE CAMPAIGN TRAIL, PEOPLE GIVE HIM FAIRLY HIGH MARKS COMPARED TO OTHER GOVERNORS AROUND THE COUNTRY AND HIS JOB PERFORMANCE BUT WHEN ASKED IF HE SHOULD RUN FOR AN UNPRECEDENTED TERM, 43% TO 42% SAID NO.

Obradovich: I THINK THE POINT THERE, THOUGH, IS PEOPLE HAVEN'T SEEN THE COMPETITION, SO, YOU KNOW, YOU LOOK AT THE GOVERNOR'S POSITION HERE IN IOWA AND THE FACT THAT THE ECONOMY IS DOING WELL AND PEOPLE GIVE THE STATE HIGH MARKS. THEY SAY THE STATE IS ON THE RIGHT TRACK.  THAT MAKES HIM A VERY FORMIDABLE ADVERSARY IF HE DOES DECIDE TO RUN.

Borg: HE'S INSISTING THAT HE HAS THE ENERGY TO DO IT.

Obradovich: YES.

Borg: AND THANKS FOR ALL YOUR ENERGY TODAY.  THANKS FOR YOUR PERSPECTIVES.  NEXT WEEK ON IOWA PRESS WE'RE ADDING MORE POLITICAL JOURNALISTS FOR AN EXPANDED REPORTERS ROUNDTABLE PROVIDING LIVELY DISCUSSION AS YOU'VE SEEN JUST NOW AND PERSPECTIVE, SO EAVESDROP ALONG WITH ME NEXT WEEK, SAME TIMES, 7:30 FRIDAY NIGHT AND NOON ON SUNDAY.  THANKS FOR JOINING US TODAY.


Tags: government Iowa news politics Republicans Terry Branstad