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Iowa Press #2723 - Gov. Tom Vilsack
February 6, 2000

Borg: AFTER RECEIVING A CONDITION OF THE STATE VISION FROM THE GOVERNOR, THE SECOND SESSION OF THE 78TH IOWA GENERAL ASSEMBLY IS IN ITS FIRST MONTH. WE'LL DISCUSS STATEHOUSE MATTERS AND PENDING LEGISLATION WITH GOVERNOR TOM VILSACK ON THIS EDITION OF IOWA PRESS.

FUNDING FOR IOWA PRESS WAS PROVIDED BY FRIENDS OF IOWA PUBLIC TELEVISION. AND 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.

THIS IS THE SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 6 EDITION OF IOWA PRESS. HERE IS DEAN BORG.

Borg: THIS WEEK THE IOWA LEGISLATIVE SESSION OF 2000 PASSES THE ONE-MONTH MARK, AND IOWA'S 150 REPRESENTATIVES AND SENATORS ARE NOW ABOUT A THIRD OF THE WAY THROUGH THE SCHEDULED 110-DAY SESSION. JUST ABOUT A MONTH AGO, GOVERNOR TOM VILSACK MARKED HIS FIRST YEAR IN OFFICE THAT SAME WEEK, ON TUESDAY, JANUARY 11. THE GOVERNOR DELIVERED HIS PRIORITIES IN HIS FIRST CONDITION OF THE STATE ADDRESS, AND HE CHALLENGED THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY TO FOLLOW THROUGH ON THE ISSUES THAT HE SEES AS OPPORTUNITIES FOR IOWA. GOVERNOR VILSACK, WE'LL ASK YOU ABOUT THOSE OPPORTUNITIES AND OTHER THINGS. WELCOME BACK TO IOWA PRESS.

Vilsack: IT'S NICE TO BE HERE, DEAN.

Borg: AND ACROSS THE TABLE, STATEHOUSE REPORTERS KATHIE OBRADOVICH OF THE LEE NEWSPAPERS AND JENEANE BECK OF KUNI PUBLIC RADIO.

Obradovich: GOVERNOR, YOUR DEPARTMENT OF HUMAN SERVICES HAS BEEN UNDER FIRE IN THIS PAST WEEK IN THE WAKE OF A VERY TRAGIC CHILD-ABUSE DEATH OF A TODDLER IN SPIRIT LAKE. WE KNOW THAT YOUR PERSONAL INVESTIGATION OF THIS MATTER IS GOING TO BE CONTINUING THIS WEEKEND, BUT WHAT ARE YOU PLANNING TO DO TO COMBAT THE PERCEPTION THAT THE STATE DROPPED THE BALL ON THIS ISSUE?

Vilsack: WELL, KATHIE, IT'S PRETTY DIFFICULT TO DO THAT WHEN YOU BASICALLY ARE HAND-TIED BY LAW IN NOT BEING ABLE TO DISCLOSE THE SPECIFIC NATURE OF THE INVESTIGATION THAT TOOK PLACE BEFORE THE YOUNGSTER'S DEATH, AND WHAT ACTIONS, IF ANY, WERE TAKEN AS A RESULT OF THAT INVESTIGATION. CURRENT IOWA LAW MAKES IT A SERIOUS MISDEMEANOR FOR ANYBODY FROM THE DEPARTMENT OF HUMAN SERVICES TO DISCUSS THE DETAILS OF THE CASE. SO, UNFORTUNATELY, WHAT WE HAVE TO BE ABLE TO DO IS TO EXPLAIN TO PEOPLE THE GENERAL NATURE OF WHAT THE DHS DOES AND EXPLAIN TO THEM WHY WE CAN'T TALK SPECIFICALLY ABOUT THIS PARTICULAR INCIDENT. AND I THINK AS WE BEGIN THAT EDUCATION PROCESS, I THINK PEOPLE WILL GROW TO UNDERSTAND THAT WE'RE INVESTIGATING THIS, INTERNALLY. WE ARE ALSO BRINGING AN ENTITY FROM THE OUTSIDE TO TAKE A LOOK AT OUR ENTIRE CHILD-ABUSE PROCESS TO DETERMINE WHETHER IT'S ADEQUATELY STAFFED, ADEQUATELY FUNDED, WHETHER THE PROCEDURES AND PROCESSES THAT WE HAVE IN PLACE ARE APPROPRIATE AND HOW THEY STACK UP TO THE BEST PRACTICES IN THE COUNTRY.

Obradovich: ARE YOU SATISFIED, AT THIS POINT, THAT YOUR DEPARTMENT DID EVERYTHING POSSIBLE TO KEEP THIS CHILD SAFE, OR IS THAT SOMETHING YOU STILL DON'T KNOW?

Vilsack: WELL, I DON'T KNOW BECAUSE THE DEPARTMENT CAN'T TELL ME. THE LAW BASICALLY PROHIBITS THEM FROM TALKING ABOUT ANY ASPECT OF THIS CASE WITH ANYONE... INCLUDING ME, WHICH IS WHY WE'VE ASKED THE LEGISLATURE TO EXERCISE ITS POWER TO TAKE A LOOK AT THE CONFIDENTIALITY RULES. IT'S VERY FRUSTRATING FOR ALL OF US.

Borg: AREN'T WE TO BE CONCERNED ABOUT THE SAFETY OF OTHER CHILDREN, THAT IS, IF SOMETHING WENT WRONG WITH THIS CASE. IS THERE SOMETHING WRONG WITH THE WAY THAT WE STRUCTURE OUR LAWS, AND THE WAY THAT THEY ARE APPLIED? AND SHOULD WE BE AFRAID FOR OTHER CHILDREN?

Vilsack: CLEARLY THERE ARE LITERALLY HUNDREDS OF INCIDENCES THAT ARE REPORTED ON A REGULAR BASIS THROUGHOUT THE STATE. SOME OF THEM ARE FOUND AND SOME OF THEM ARE NOT. I CAN TELL YOU THAT OUR DEPARTMENT OF HUMAN SERVICES IS WORKING AS HARD AS THEY POSSIBLY CAN, GIVEN THE STAFFING LEVELS AND THE RESOURCES THAT ARE AVAILABLE TO THEM. THIS WAS A VERY, VERY TRAGIC SITUATION, AND I WILL SAY, AS FAR AS I'M CONCERNED, THE FOCUS AND ATTENTION NEEDS TO BE ON THE PERSON OR PERSONS WHO ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR PHYSICALLY ATTACKING AND KILLING THIS CHILD. I WANT TO MAKE SURE THAT WE DON'T DO ANYTHING IN THIS DISCUSSION OR CONVERSATION TO JEOPARDIZE THE PROSECUTION OF THAT INDIVIDUAL OR INDIVIDUALS.

Beck: IN THE MEANTIME, THOUGH, A SENATOR FROM MARION HAS THREATENED TO HOLD UP YOUR APPOINTMENTS -- CONFIRMATION OF YOUR APPOINTEES -- UNTIL SHE GETS SOME ANSWERS ABOUT THIS CHILD-ABUSE CASE. WHAT DO YOU SAY TO THAT?

Vilsack: WELL, WE'RE NOT GOING TO DO BUSINESS THAT WAY. THAT'S NOT THE WAY TO APPROACH THIS SITUATION OR ANY SITUATION. THE FACT IS THAT ALL OF US ARE ANGRY WHENEVER A CHILD IS KILLED. NOW, WHAT I HOPE WE WILL SEE IS POSITIVE ACTION COMING FROM THIS, POSITIVE ENERGY BEING USED TO CREATE A MUCH SAFER IOWA. I HOPE THAT THE SENATOR WILL TAKE THE ANGER AND CONCERN AND FOCUS IT ON MAKING THE STREETS SAFER BY REDUCING THE BLOOD ALCOHOL CONTENT FROM .1 TO .08; BY MAKING HOMES SAFER BY HAVING SAFETY LOCKS ON HANDGUNS SO THAT CHILDREN CAN'T USE THEM ACCIDENTALLY; THAT WE TAKE A LOOK AT HOW WE CAN CREATE A MUCH SAFER ENVIRONMENT FOR CHILDREN. THREATENING TO HOLD UP APPOINTMENTS IS REALLY JUST NOT AN APPROPRIATE WAY OF DEALING WITH THESE ISSUES. THE SENATOR KNOWS, OR SHOULD KNOW, THAT THE CONFIDENTIALITY RULES PROHIBIT US -- CONFIDENTIALITY RULES THAT SHE, AS A LEGISLATOR, HAS THE ABILITY TO CHANGE, AND WE WOULD INVITE HER TO BEGIN A CONVERSATION WITH US ABOUT HOW WE BALANCE THE NEED FOR THE PUBLIC TO KNOW, FOR SENATORS AND FOR THE GOVERNOR TO KNOW, AGAINST THE NEED TO PROTECT THOSE WHO MAY BE FALSELY ACCUSED OF CHILD ABUSE FROM BEING STAINED PERMANENTLY WITH THAT TYPE OF ALLEGATION.

Obradovich: SO, GOVERNOR, THE BEST THING LEGISLATORS CAN DO IS PASS YOUR LEGISLATIVE AGENDA. IS THAT BASICALLY WHAT YOU'RE SAYING HERE?

Vilsack: WHAT I'M SAYING IS THAT OUR LEGISLATIVE AGENDA IS DESIGNED TO MAKE IOWA A SAFER PLACE FOR CHILDREN, TO THE EXTENT THAT WE FOCUS ON EARLY CHILDHOOD EDUCATION; TO THE EXTENT THAT WE EXPAND HEALTHCARE OPPORTUNITIES FOR CHILDREN; TO THE EXTENT THAT WE CREATE OPEN SPACES WHERE CHILDREN CAN HAVE RECREATIONAL OPPORTUNITIES; TO THE EXTENT THAT WE CREATE A SAFER A ENVIRONMENT BY LOWERING THE BLOOD ALCOHOL CONTENT; BY SAFETY LOCKS ON HANDGUNS, AND SOME OF THE OTHER CRIME MEASURES THAT WE PROPOSED. IT IS DESIGNED TO MAKE IOWA A SAFER PLACE.

Obradovich: WHAT ABOUT THE CONFIDENTIALITY PROVISIONS THAT YOU'RE COMING UP WITH? DO YOU THINK THERE SHOULD BE ANY CHANGES IN THE LAW THERE TO MAKE SURE THAT IOWANS CAN FEEL MORE CONFIDENT THAT THEIR STATE IS DOING EVERYTHING IT CAN TO PROTECT CHILDREN?

Vilsack: WELL, I CLEARLY BELIEVE THAT THE GOVERNOR OF THE STATE OUGHT TO HAVE ACCESS TO THE INFORMATION, AND IT PROBABLY IS APPROPRIATE FOR LEGISLATIVE LEADERSHIP TO HAVE ACCESS TO THE INFORMATION. AGAIN, THE KEY IS GOING TO BE BALANCING OUR NEED TO KNOW WITH THE ABILITY TO AVOID HAVING SOMEONE WHO IS WRONGFULLY ACCUSED OF A CHILD-ABUSE INCIDENT BEING STAINED PERMANENTLY BY THAT INFORMATION BEING MADE PUBLIC BEFORE THE INVESTIGATION CONCLUDES THAT, IN FACT, THERE WAS NO ABUSE.

Obradovich: ARE YOU GOING TO MAKE ANY SPECIFIC PROPOSALS TO THE LEGISLATURE?

Vilsack: WELL, WE SAT DOWN WITH LEGISLATIVE LEADERS IN THE SENATE TO TALK SPECIFICALLY ABOUT WHAT THEY ARE INTERESTED IN DOING. SENATOR LUNDBY ALSO PROPOSED AND SUGGESTED THAT THERE BE SOME CHANGES IN TERMS OF THE DHS'S ABILITY. A LOT OF PEOPLE DON'T UNDERSTAND THE DHS DOESN'T HAVE THE POWER TO GO IN AND TAKE A CHILD OUT, EVEN UNDER THE MOST EGREGIOUS SITUATION. CURRENTLY, THE DHS HAS TO GO THROUGH A COURT PROCESS. CURRENTLY, INFORMATION THE DHS RECEIVES IS ALSO SIMULTANEOUSLY SENT TO A COUNTY ATTORNEY'S OFFICE. SO THERE ARE SEVERAL PAIRS OF EYES REVIEWING THIS INFORMATION. IF, IN FACT, THERE IS A SIGN OF PHYSICAL INJURY, IT IS MY UNDERSTANDING THAT THE STANDARD PRACTICE HAS THE CHILD EVALUATED BY A PHYSICIAN, AND A PHYSICIAN HAS THE RESPONSIBILITY, IF THEY CONCLUDE ABUSE HAS TAKEN PLACE, TO REPORT IT. SO THERE IS POTENTIALLY SEVERAL SERIES OF EYES LOOKING AT A PARTICULAR SITUATION. I THINK WE HAVE TO DETERMINE, IN THIS PARTICULAR CASE, WHETHER THAT HAPPENED THE WAY IT WAS SUPPOSED TO HAPPEN AND, IF IT DID, WHY ACTION WAS OR WAS NOT TAKEN AND WHETHER OR NOT WE HAVE A COHESIVE PROCESS WHERE THE RIGHT HAND KNOWS WHAT THE LEFT HAND IS DOING.

Borg: I'D LIKE TO GO BACK TO THE CONDITION OF THE STATE MESSAGE THAT I REFERRED TO EARLIER. AND THE SPECIFIC QUESTION IS HOW ARE WE TO INTERPRET THAT IN LIGHT OF IT WENT NEARLY AN HOUR AND A HALF, THERE WERE MORE THAN A HUNDRED, BY SOME COUNTS, BY YOUR OWN PARTY 112, PROPOSALS. IS THAT BECAUSE -- IS THE DEMOCRATIC GOVERNOR, AFTER SOME 30 YEARS OF REPUBLICAN LEADERSHIP, IN THE EXECUTIVE BRANCH, OR IS IT BECAUSE IOWA IS JUST THAT BAD OFF AND NEEDS SOME TURNING AROUND?

Vilsack: WELL, WE HAVE CHALLENGES. WE HAVE GREAT OPPORTUNITIES. THE FACT IS WE'VE GOT FEWER PEOPLE LIVING IN IOWA TODAY THAN WE DID IN 1980. THE FACT IS THAT OUR POPULATION IS STAGNANT AND SKILLED WORKER SHORTAGES ARE A REFLECTION OF WHAT HAPPENS WHEN YOU'VE GOT STAGNANT POPULATION. IN ADDITION, OUR POPULATION IS AGING. THE FASTEST GROWING SEGMENT OF IOWA'S POPULATION BY PERCENTAGE IS PEOPLE OVER 100. WE'RE FIRST-IN-THE-NATION PEOPLE OVER THE AGE OF 85, SECOND OVER 75, ET CETERA. SO IT IS IMPORTANT AND NECESSARY FOR US TO FOCUS ON GETTING MORE IOWANS AND YOUNGER IOWANS AND BETTER-PAID IOWANS. TO DO THAT, IT WOULD BE NICE IF WE COULD JUST FOCUS ON ONE THING, IF THERE WAS JUST ONE ANSWER TO BE ABLE TO DO THAT. BUT INDEED, WE HAVE TO FOCUS ON ACTUALLY SIX DIFFERENT AREAS SIMULTANEOUSLY. THE LENGTH OF THE STATE ADDRESS REFLECTS HOW MUCH WORK WE HAVE TO DO AND WHY THIS LEGISLATIVE SESSION IS SO EXTREMELY IMPORTANT TO THE FUTURE OF THE STATE.

Obradovich: DO YOU HAVE ANY TOP PRIORITIES OUT OF THAT WHOLE LIST OF 112? IS THERE ONE THING THAT YOU REALLY WANT TO COME OUT OF THIS SESSION WITH?

Vilsack: YOU SEE, THAT'S A TEMPTING QUESTION TO ANSWER, KATHIE, BUT IT WOULDN'T BE APPROPRIATE FOR ME TO ANSWER IT OTHER THAN TO SAY THIS: IF YOU HAD THE BEST EDUCATION SYSTEM IN THE WORLD, WHICH IS WHAT WE STRIVE TO HAVE IN THE STATE OF IOWA, IT WOULD NOT DO YOU MUCH GOOD IF YOU CAN'T DRINK THE WATER. YOU CAN HAVE THE GREATEST QUALITY OF WATER, BUT IF YOU DON'T HAVE ACCESS TO HEALTHCARE, WHAT GOOD IS IT? SO THAT'S WHY WE HAVE TO FOCUS ON EDUCATIONAL OPPORTUNITIES AND EXPANDING, PARTICULARLY, EARLY-CHILDHOOD EDUCATION. THAT IS EXTREMELY IMPORTANT BASED ON THE BRAIN RESEARCH. WE'VE GOT TO EXPAND HEALTHCARE ACCESS, AND WE HAVE TO FOCUS ON PREVENTATIVE HEALTHCARE, BECAUSE THAT'S GOING TO SAVE US MONEY IN THE LONG RUN. WE'VE GOT A WATER QUALITY INITIATIVE THAT'S ABSOLUTELY VITAL. WE'VE TALKED ABOUT SAFE COMMUNITIES. WE CAN TALK ABOUT VALUE-ADDED AGRICULTURE AND WORK FORCE DEVELOPMENT, AND WE NEED TO RESTRUCTURE A MORE ACCOUNTABLE GOVERNMENT. ALL OF THOSE, I THINK, ARE EXTREMELY IMPORTANT.

Beck: GOVERNOR, SINCE WE CAN'T GET YOU TO PICK A PRIORITY, WE'RE GOING TO PICK ONE FOR YOU, FOR NOW, AND TALK ABOUT EDUCATION. THE REPUBLICAN LEGISLATURE, THIS WEEK, APPROVED THE 4-PERCENT BUDGET INCREASE FOR SCHOOLS FOR THE YEAR 2002, WHICH IS THE LEVEL YOU RECOMMENDED. WHERE DO WE GO FROM HERE? ARE THERE OTHER CONTENTIOUS ISSUES BETWEEN YOU AND THE REPUBLICANS OVER EDUCATION, OR ARE YOU GOING TO HAVE A PLAN YOU'RE WORKING TOGETHER ON?

Vilsack: WE HAVE ANOTHER DEADLINE THAT WE HAVE TO ADDRESS BY MARCH 1, AND THAT DEADLINE RELATES TO THE FUNDING OF ALTERNATIVE SCHOOLS. BY VIRTUE OF AN ATTORNEY GENERAL'S OPINION, THE METHOD IN THE PROCESS BY WHICH WE WERE FUNDING ALTERNATIVE SCHOOLS WAS PUT INTO QUESTION. AND SO NOW WE'VE MADE A PROPOSAL TO SPEND AN ADDITIONAL $9.8 MILLION TO TRY TO PROVIDE A FUNDING STREAM TO ALTERNATIVE SCHOOLS SO THAT WE CAN MAINTAIN AND PERHAPS EXPAND THOSE VERY IMPORTANT PROGRAMS. IF THE LEGISLATURE FAILS TO ACT BY MARCH 1 ON THIS KEY ISSUE, WE COULD HAVE VERY DIFFICULT TIMES FOR MANY SCHOOL DISTRICTS THAT ARE TRYING TO FIGURE OUT HOW THEY'RE GOING TO FUND THEIR ALTERNATIVE SCHOOLS. SO THAT IS AN ISSUE. THERE IS ALSO AN ISSUE RELATIVE TO TEACHER COMPENSATION. EVERYBODY IN THE STATE KNOWS WE'VE GOT A PROBLEM WITH TEACHER COMPENSATION. WHAT WE DON'T KNOW IS HOW TO SOLVE IT. AND IT'S IMPORTANT AND NECESSARY, BEFORE WE PUT A GREAT DEAL OF RESOURCES BEHIND THE TEACHER COMPENSATION PROPOSAL, THAT WE KNOW SPECIFICALLY HOW TO SOLVE IT. AND WE ARE GOING TO BE VERY AGGRESSIVE IN THAT REGARD IN A NUMBER OF WAYS: ONE, WE'RE GOING TO ASK MEMBERS OF THE COUNCIL ON CONTINUOUS IMPROVEMENT TO ASSIST US IN PUTTING TOGETHER A BEST PRACTICES PROPOSAL, TAKING A LOOK AT WHAT'S GOING ON AROUND THE COUNTRY AND HAVING IOWA HAVE THE BEST SYSTEM FOR TEACHER QUALITY AND COMPENSATION; TWO, WE'RE GOING TO ASK THE LEGISLATURE TO FUND AN INNOVATIONS FUND THAT WILL ALLOW US TO PROVIDE ONE OR MORE SCHOOL DISTRICTS WITH ENOUGH RESOURCE TO TRY OUT A NEW COMPENSATION SYSTEM, SO WE CAN LEARN FROM THEIR ACTUALLY DOING IT IN REVISING THEIR COMPENSATION SYSTEM, WHAT THE PROBLEMS ARE. SO THESE ARE TWO KEY AREAS. EARLY CHILDHOOD, AGAIN, I WANT TO COME BACK TO THAT. IF WE DON'T DO OUR JOB RIGHT IN THE FIRST SIX YEARS OF A CHILD'S LIFE, THEN IT MAKES IT MUCH MORE DIFFICULT FOR ANYBODY ELSE IN THE EDUCATION SYSTEM TO DO THEIR JOB.

Obradovich: GOVERNOR, ONE OF THE THINGS THAT REPUBLICANS SAID THEY WERE CONCERNED ABOUT IN YOUR BUDGET WAS THAT THERE WERE NO PROVISIONS FOR GIVING SOME EXTRA MONEY TO SCHOOL DISTRICTS THAT ARE EITHER LOSING ENROLLMENT QUICKLY, OR THEY'RE GAINING ENROLLMENT MORE QUICKLY. THERE ARE SOME THINGS THAT SAY THAT YOU NEED TO GIVE SCHOOL DISTRICTS A LITTLE EXTRA MONEY AT THE END OF THE YEAR, FOR EXAMPLE, IF THEY HAVE A LOT MORE STUDENTS. WHY DIDN'T YOU INCLUDE THAT IN YOUR BUDGET, AND IS IT APPROPRIATE TO PUT MONEY INTO THAT AREA?

Vilsack: KATHIE, WE'VE MADE CHOICES OVER THE LAST FOUR OR FIVE YEARS, AND SOME OF THOSE CHOICES HAVE INVOLVED FAIRLY SIGNIFICANT TAX CUTS. BY OUR CALCULATION, WE'VE PROVIDED PROBABLY $721 MILLION ANNUALLY OF TAX RELIEF IN SOME FORM TO THE PEOPLE OF IOWA. WHEN YOU TAKE THAT AMOUNT OF MONEY OUT OF THE STREAM, IT LIMITS THE CHOICES THAT YOU CAN MAKE WITHIN THE EXISTING BUDGET. SINCE WE HAD THIS ALTERNATIVE SCHOOL PROBLEM THAT WE HAD TO ADDRESS, WE HAD TO ALLOCATE ADDITIONAL RESOURCES TO SOLVE THAT PROBLEM. THAT MADE IT DIFFICULT IF WE WANTED AN ALLOWABLE GROWTH RATE THAT WOULD ALLOW OUR SCHOOLS TO CONTINUE TO AT LEAST KEEP PACE WITH SALARIES, IF WE WANTED AN ALLOWABLE GROWTH RATE OF 4 PERCENT. IT LIMITED OUR OPTIONS. HAD WE NOT HAD THE ALTERNATIVE SCHOOL ISSUE, WE MIGHT HAVE HAD MORE FLEXIBILITY. AS IT IS, MANY LEGISLATORS BELIEVE, AND I KNOW THAT SENATOR IVERSON BELIEVES THIS, THAT AS FAR AS THE DECLINING ENROLLMENT SCHOOLS -- THEY'RE GOING TO HAVE TO MAKE A CHOICE WHETHER OR NOT THEY WANT TO USE LOCAL FUNDS FROM PROPERTY TAXES TO BASICALLY MAINTAIN WHATEVER LEVEL SERVICE THEY BELIEVE. IT IS A LOCAL DECISION, AFTER ALL. AND THAT'S THE ONE THING ABOUT OUR SCHOOL STRUCTURE THAT I WANT TO EMPHASIZE TODAY. WE HAVE A LOCAL CONTROL STATE. IN FACT, WE'RE THE ONLY STATE IN THE UNION THAT FOCUSES SUCH LOCAL DECISION MAKING WITH REFERENCE TO SCHOOLS. SO IT'S A MATTER OF CHOICES.

Beck: I WANT TO STEP BACK TO TEACHER SALARIES AND COMPENSATION FOR JUST A MOMENT. THE PLAN THAT YOU'RE TALKING ABOUT SEEMS LIKE SOMETHING THAT'S NOT GOING TO HAPPEN OVERNIGHT. IT'S REALLY A PILOT PROJECT, YET WE HAVE THE DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION DIRECTOR, TED STILWILL, TELLING US THAT MANY SMALLER DISTRICTS OR RURAL DISTRICTS ARE FACING SUCH SHORTAGES OF ACCREDITED TEACHERS THAT THEY MAY EVENTUALLY NEED TO CLOSE DOWN, EVEN FAIRLY QUICKLY, AND THAT HE'S NOT AFRAID TO CLOSE THEM IF THEY'RE NOT MEETING STANDARDS. ARE YOU WILLING TO AGGRESSIVELY CLOSE SCHOOLS THAT ARE NOT LIVING UP TO EXPECTATIONS ANYMORE?

Vilsack: WHAT WE ARE WILLING TO DO IS AGGRESSIVELY TAKE A LOOK AT THE TAX CUT PROPOSAL, TAX CREDIT PROPOSAL WE PROVIDED TO THE LEGISLATURE. IN ORDER TO GIVE THOSE RURAL SCHOOLS A RECRUITING TOOL, IN ORDER TO GIVE THEM AN OPPORTUNITY TO MAKE THE CASE WITH BRIGHT YOUNG PEOPLE TO TEACH. WE'VE PROPOSED A TAX CREDIT FOR BEGINNING TEACHERS AIMED AT THESE SCHOOLS THAT ARE HAVING A DIFFICULT TIME RECRUITING QUALITY TEACHERS, AIMED AT SCHOOLS THAT ARE HAVING A DIFFICULT TIME RECRUITING TEACHERS WITHIN SPECIFIC AREAS. THIS TAX CREDIT WOULD ALLOW THOSE SCHOOLS TO SAY, "COME TO OUR SCHOOL AND YOU CAN AVOID PAYING STATE INCOME TAX FOR A PERIOD OF TIME." NOW, SOME PEOPLE ARE CRITICAL OF THAT PROGRAM, BUT WHAT THEY DON'T REALIZE IS HOW MUCH COMPETITION WE NOW FACE. THE STATE OF CALIFORNIA IS PROPOSING ALMOST $40,000 IN INCENTIVES. THE STATE OF NEW YORK IS THINKING ABOUT A FREE COLLEGE EDUCATION FOR TEACHERS. SO IN ORDER FOR US TO COMPETE, WE HAVE TO HAVE SOMETHING. NOW, ONCE WE GET THEIR ATTENTION, THEN WHAT WE CAN DO IS WE CAN SAY: COME TO THIS SCHOOL DISTRICT BECAUSE YOU'RE GOING TO HAVE SMALLER CLASS SIZES; YOU'RE GOING TO HAVE CHILDREN THAT ARE INTERESTED IN LEARNING; YOU'RE GOING TO HAVE PARENTS THAT ARE INTERESTED IN HAVING THEIR CHILDREN LEARN; IT'S GOING TO BE A SAFER ENVIRONMENT IN WHICH YOU CAN TEACH; AND YOU CAN ACTUALLY ACCOMPLISH SOMETHING. THE TAX CREDIT IS DESIGNED TO GIVE US A TOOL, IN THE MEANTIME, WHILE WE LOOK AT THE LONG-TERM COMPENSATION SYSTEM.

Obradovich: GOVERNOR, IN ORDER TO GET THOSE THINGS DONE THAT YOU WANT, YOU HAVE TO GET THE COOPERATION OF THE REPUBLICAN CONTROLLED LEGISLATURE AND, FRANKLY, YOU HAVE A PROBLEM. THEY HAVE TAKEN A LOOK AT YOUR BUDGET AND THEY SAID WE DON'T LIKE IT; WE'RE GOING TO THROW IT OUT THE WINDOW AND WE'RE GOING TO START OVER FROM SCRATCH. THEY SAY THAT THEY'RE NOT WILLING TO MAKE THE CHANGES IN LAW NEEDED TO MAKE YOUR BUDGET BALANCE. WHAT IS THAT GOING TO DO FOR THE REST OF YOUR LEGISLATIVE AGENDA?

Vilsack: FIRST OF ALL, OUR BUDGET DOES BALANCE, AND SECONDLY, THEY'VE MADE THREE DECISIONS UP TO THIS POINT IN THE FIRST MONTH OF THE SESSION. ALL THREE OF THOSE DECISIONS HAVE BEEN PURSUANT TO OUR RECOMMENDATIONS, ONE OF WHICH WAS PURSUANT TO THIS BUDGET THAT THEY CLAIM THEY'VE BASICALLY THROWN OUT. THE REALITY IS THAT THERE'S GOING TO HAVE TO OBVIOUSLY BE SOME GIVE AND TAKE. THE REPUBLICANS PUT THEMSELVES IN A POSITION OF NOT ACCEPTING SOME OF THE CHOICES THAT WE'VE MADE; THEY'VE PUT THEMSELVES IN A POSITION WHERE THEY'RE GOING TO HAVE TO SIGNIFICANTLY UNDERFUND MANY OF THE SERVICES AND PROGRAMS THAT HELP IOWANS. THEY'RE GOING TO, IN SOME WAY, SHAPE, OR FORM, IMPACT AND AFFECT EDUCATIONAL OPPORTUNITY. THEY'RE GOING TO LIMIT ACCESS TO HEALTHCARE. THEY'RE GOING TO LIMIT ACCESS TO SERVICES FOR PEOPLE IN NEED. THEY'RE POTENTIALLY GOING TO COMPROMISE OUR ABILITY TO PROVIDE RECREATIONAL OPPORTUNITIES, IF THEY ARE UNWILLING TO DISCUSS SOME OF THE PROPOSED CHANGES. LET ME JUST TAKE ONE EXAMPLE. WE HAVE PROPOSED THIS CONCEPT CALLED PERFORMANCE OF DUTY. IT'S ONE OF THOSE TERMS, YOU KNOW, THAT MOST PEOPLE GO WHAT IS PERFORMANCE OF DUTY. WELL, PERFORMANCE OF DUTY IS SIMPLY THIS: WHEN WE HAVE A FLOOD OR A TORNADO IN THIS STATE, THE STATE OF IOWA IS CALLED UPON TO PROVIDE RESOURCES TO LOCAL COMMUNITIES SO THAT THEY CAN DEAL WITH THE TRAGEDY. WE USUALLY HAVE SET ASIDE A CERTAIN AMOUNT OF MONEY FROM THE GENERAL FUND INTO A SPECIAL FUND. IT'S AN ARBITRARY AMOUNT BECAUSE WE HAVE NO IDEA HOW MANY TORNADOES WILL STRIKE, WHAT THE COST WILL BE. WE'RE PROPOSING TAKING THAT OUT OF THE EMERGENCY RESERVE FUND, BECAUSE THAT'S WHAT THE EMERGENCY RESERVE FUND IS FOR; IT'S FOR EMERGENCIES. WE KNOW THAT WE'RE NOT ACTUALLY GOING TO REDUCE THE AMOUNT OF THAT EMERGENCY RESERVE FUND BECAUSE AT THE END OF THE YEAR WHAT SURPLUS IS LEFT -- AND THERE WILL BE A SURPLUS BECAUSE WE CAN'T SPEND BUT 99 PERCENT OF WHAT WE TAKE IN -- WILL GO TO REFILL THE EMERGENCY FUND. NOW, THAT SEEMS TO ME TO BE A REASONABLE WAY OF APPROACHING EMERGENCIES. THAT DECISION WOULD BASICALLY FREE UP $10 MILLION WITHIN THE GENERAL FUND FOR SERVICES THAT WE'RE TALKING ABOUT HERE. REPUBLICANS HAVE SAID THEY'RE NOT WILLING TO DO THAT. WELL, WHAT THEY'RE SAYING IS, WE'RE GOING TO REDUCE GENERAL FUND SPENDING BY $10 MILLION, OR WE'RE GOING TO MAKE DIFFERENT CHOICES WITHIN THE INFRASTRUCTURE BUDGET. AND I THINK AS THEY BASICALLY TAKE A LOOK AT THE REALITY OF THOSE DECISIONS, THAT WE WILL BE SITTING DOWN AND TALKING ABOUT AND COMPROMISING ON A NUMBER OF THEM.

Beck: ANOTHER PROBLEM REPUBLICANS HAVE WITH YOUR BUDGET IS THAT MUCH OF IT IS USING TOBACCO DOLLARS TO LEVERAGE FEDERAL DOLLARS, AND THEY'RE CONCERNED WITH BOTH OF THOSE. THEY DON'T THINK TOBACCO DOLLARS OR FEDERAL DOLLARS ARE A CONSISTENT SOURCE OF REVENUE. THEY'RE WORRIED THAT BOTH COULD DROP OFF AND THEN YOU HAVE EXISTING PROGRAMS AND THERE'S NO MONEY FOR THEM ANY LONGER. ARE THOSE SAFE REVENUE SOURCES?

Vilsack: WELL, I BELIEVE THAT THE TOBACCO PROCEEDS ARE VERY SAFE BASED UPON THE STRUCTURE OF THE SETTLEMENT AND THE JOB THAT THE ATTORNEY GENERAL DID ADEQUATELY AND VERY WELL REPRESENTING THE STATE OF IOWA. I BELIEVE THAT THE COMMITMENT ON THE PART OF THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT IS ALSO A FAIRLY SIGNIFICANT ONE AND A LONG-TERM ONE. WE'RE TAKING A LOOK AT A FEDERAL GOVERNMENT THAT NOW IS LOOKING AT RECORD SURPLUSES; IT'S TALKING ABOUT REDUCING AND PERHAPS ELIMINATING THE DEBT WITHIN FIFTEEN YEARS. SO THIS IS A FEDERAL GOVERNMENT THAT'S CAPABLE OF MAINTAINING IT'S CONTRIBUTION, BUT THE THING ABOUT THIS PROGRAM, JENEANE, THAT YOU HAVE TO REALIZE IS THAT WHEN YOU INVEST MONEY IN HEALTH CARE, INVEST IN A PREVENTATIVE HEALTH CARE AND DRAW ON THESE FEDERAL MONEYS, YOU DO IT IN A WAY THAT WILL SAVE MONEY IN THE LONG RUN. SO AS WE INVEST WISELY, WE'RE GOING TO BE SAVING MONEY IN THE GENERAL FUND IN THE LONG RUN. FOR EXAMPLE, WE'RE PROPOSING SUBSTANCE ABUSE TREATMENT, EXPANSION OF SUBSTANCE ABUSE. WE KNOW FROM THE LITERATURE THAT YOU INVEST A DOLLAR IN SUBSTANCE ABUSE TREATMENT, YOU SAVE $4 IN CORRECTIONS AND HUMAN SERVICES AND A VARIETY OF OTHER AREAS. IT WILL PAY FOR ITSELF. WE THINK IT'S CLEAR THAT THIS MONEY SHOULD BE USED FOR HEALTH CARE. WE ALSO THINK THAT THIS MONTH OF FEBRUARY IS A KEY MONTH. WE THINK IT'S IMPORTANT TO GET THE SPECIAL ALTERNATIVE SCHOOL ISSUE DECIDED IN FEBRUARY. WE THINK IT'S GOING TO BE IMPORTANT AND NECESSARY TO GET THE TOBACCO FUND DECISIONS MADE IN FEBRUARY, SO WE'RE GOING TO BE FOCUSING OUR ATTENTION ON MAKING THAT HAPPEN.

Obradovich: LAST YEAR, GOVERNOR, REPUBLICANS WERE IN YOUR OFFICE EVERY OTHER WEEK ANNOUNCING A BIPARTISAN AGREEMENT WITH YOU. THIS YEAR THOSE AGREEMENTS SEEM TO BE A LITTLE FURTHER FROM COMING, ALTHOUGH, AS YOU MENTIONED, THEY DID COME YOUR WAY ON EDUCATION SPENDING. BUT WHAT DOES THAT SAY FOR THE OVERALL STATE OF BIPARTISAN COOPERATION THIS SESSION? IS THE HONEYMOON OVER? WE'VE ASKED YOU THAT BEFORE I KNOW.

Vilsack: WE'VE PUT BEFORE THE LEGISLATURE A DEAPPROPRIATIONS BILL OF $30 MILLION; WE REACHED A BIPARTISAN CONSENSUS ON THAT. THE LEGISLATURE WANTED TO FUND THE WORLD WAR II MEMORIAL $150,000. WE THOUGHT IT WAS MORE APPROPRIATE TO DO IT $1 PER VETERAN; THEY AGREED WITH US ON THAT. WE SAID 4 PERCENT ALLOWABLE GROWTH; THEY AGREED. WE'VE HAD, I THINK, A PRETTY GOOD WORKING RELATIONSHIP, AND I THINK WE'LL CONTINUE TO HAVE IT. WE MEET ON A REGULAR BASIS. THE MEETINGS ARE CORDIAL. CLEARLY WE HAVE DIFFERENCES BUT I GET ALONG WITH THESE INDIVIDUALS, I RESPECT THESE INDIVIDUALS, AND I THINK, OVER TIME, YOU'LL SEE A LOT MORE CONSENSUS THAN CONFLICT.

Beck: ANOTHER DIFFERENCE, THOUGH, WOULD BE OVER HEALTH INSURANCE FOR LOW-INCOME CHILDREN. YOU'VE RECOMMENDED THAT THAT PROGRAM BE EXPANDED. IT'S CALLED THE HAWKEYE PROGRAM. REPUBLICANS ARE SAYING THAT ALTHOUGH IT'S AVAILABLE FOR ABOUT 40,000 KIDS, ONLY 4,000 ARE CURRENTLY IN THE PROGRAM, AND THEY'D RATHER NOT EXPAND IT UNTIL MORE ARE ENROLLED IN THE PROGRAM. IS THAT A FIGHT?

Vilsack: I WOULD SAY TO YOU THAT IT'S A MISUNDERSTANDING ON WHAT THE PURPOSE OF HAWKEYE IS. THE PURPOSE OF HAWKEYE IS TO GET YOUNGSTERS INSURED SO THEY HAVE ACCESS TO HEALTHCARE. TO SUGGEST THAT SOMEHOW THERE'S A THRESHOLD TO BE MET BEFORE YOU TAKE AVAILABLE FUNDS AND PROVIDE EXTENDED OPPORTUNITIES FOR OTHER YOUNGSTERS, IT SEEMS TO ME, MISSES THE POINT. WE OUGHT TO BE TRYING TO EXPAND THIS PROGRAM AS QUICKLY AS WE CAN SO THAT THE NET IS CAST AS WIDE AS IT POSSIBLY CAN BE, SO AS MANY CHILDREN -- AS MANY OF IOWA'S CHILDREN CAN ACCESS THAT CARE. IT PAYS FOR ITSELF. THESE YOUNGSTERS WHO DON'T HAVE HEALTHCARE INSURANCE, THEY EVENTUALLY GET HEALTHCARE WHEN THEY GET VERY, VERY SICK, AND THEY GET IT IN AN EMERGENCY ROOM, AND WE PAY FOR IT. SO WE CAN SAVE THAT COST. WHEN THEY GET VERY SICK, THEY MISS SCHOOL, AND WE THEN HAVE TO PAY FOR REMEDIAL EFFORTS BECAUSE THESE YOUNGSTERS MISS 25 PERCENT MORE SCHOOL THAN A YOUNGSTER WHO HAS INSURANCE COVERAGE. THE FACT IS, WE'LL SAVE MONEY AND WE'LL HAVE HEALTHIER CHILDREN AND, AS IMPORTANTLY, WHEN YOU HAVE A SKILLED WORKER SHORTAGE, WHEN EVERY SINGLE PERSON IS IMPORTANT TO THE EMPLOYMENT STREAM, IF YOU CAN RELIEVE THE STRESS AND PRESSURE THAT WORKING FAMILIES HAVE BEING WORRIED ABOUT THEIR CHILDREN AND BEING WORRIED ABOUT THEIR CHILDREN'S HEALTH AND NOT BEING ABLE TO GET THEM TO A DOCTOR BECAUSE THEY CAN'T AFFORD IT, IF YOU CAN RELIEVE THAT PRESSURE, YOU'RE GOING TO HAVE A MORE PRODUCTIVE WORK FORCE. THIS IS SOMETHING THAT OUGHT TO BE DONE. WE CAN AFFORD TO DO IT. IF WE CAN'T DO IT NOW WITH THIS TREMENDOUS OPPORTUNITY THAT'S IN FRONT OF US, WHEN ARE WE EVER GOING TO DO IT? WHAT ARE WE SAYING TO IOWA'S CHILDREN WHEN WE REFUSE TO DO IT?

Borg: GOVERNOR, YOU'RE RECENTLY IN YOUR FIRST YEAR IN OFFICE. YOUR FIRST DECISION REQUEST TO POSSIBLY COMMUTE A LIFE SENTENCE, YOU DENIED. WHAT WOULD CAUSE -- I UNDERSTAND THERE'S A STACK ON YOUR DESK OF OTHER SUCH REQUESTS FROM LIFERS. WHAT WOULD CAUSE YOU TO COMMUTE A LIFE SENTENCE?

Vilsack: WE ESTABLISHED A FRAMEWORK FOR MAKING THIS DECISION. WE TOOK A LOOK AT HISTORICALLY HOW COMMUTATIONS HAVE BEEN HANDLED ALL THE WAY BACK TO MEDIEVAL TIMES. WE TOOK A LOOK HISTORICALLY WITHIN THE STATE OF IOWA HOW OTHER GOVERNORS HAVE APPROACHED THIS. WE CONCLUDED THERE WERE FOUR FACTORS: THERE NEEDED TO BE AN INDICATION THAT AN INDIVIDUAL HAD COMPLETELY REHABILITATED THEMSELVES, WHICH IS THAT THEY HAVE ACCEPTED FULL RESPONSIBILITY FOR WHATEVER TRAGIC ACT THEY WERE RESPONSIBLE FOR. SECONDLY, THERE HAD TO BE AN ELEMENT OF RETRIBUTION, THAT IS TO SAY THAT THE INDIVIDUAL PERSONALLY PAID A PRICE FOR THE CRIME THEY COMMITTED. THIRD, WE NEEDED TO HAVE SPECIFIC DETERRENCE. WE NEEDED TO BE ASSURED THAT THE PERSON WAS NOT GOING TO BE A THREAT TO THEMSELVES OR TO SOCIETY IF THEY WERE GIVEN FREEDOM AGAIN. AND FINALLY, WE NEEDED TO MAKE SURE THAT THERE WAS A GENERAL DETERRENCE MESSAGE THAT WAS SENT THAT WAS CONSISTENT WITH, IF YOU'RE DOING SOMETHING VERY SERIOUS, YOU'RE GOING TO PAY A SERIOUS PENALTY. IF YOU CAN SATISFY THOSE FOUR CRITERIA, THEN I BELIEVE COMMUTATION IS APPROPRIATE. IN MISS TYLER'S CASE, BECAUSE OF MY EXTENSIVE REVIEW OF THE FILE, I CONCLUDED THAT THERE WERE SERIOUS DOUBTS IN ALL FOUR OF THOSE AREAS. IT TAKES ALL FOUR TO MAKE THE DECISION. AND AS I SAID DURING THE PRESS CONFERENCE WHEN I ANNOUNCED THIS, AN ACCUSED INDIVIDUAL HAS THE BENEFIT OF THE DOUBT BEFORE THEY'RE CONVICTED. IT'S THE BENEFIT OF THE REASONABLE DOUBT; THEY HAVE TO BE CONVICTED BASED UPON PROOF BEYOND A REASONABLE DOUBT. ONCE YOU'RE CONVICTED, IT'S MY VIEW THAT SOCIETY GETS THE BENEFIT OF THE DOUBT, AND IF THERE IS DOUBT, THEN THE DECISION IS NOT TO COMMUTE.

Obradovich: GOVERNOR, WE HAVEN'T TOUCHED ON VERY MUCH OF YOUR 112 POINTS, AND I WANT TO HIT YOU WITH A COUPLE OF QUICK ISSUES HERE BEFORE WE HAVE TO RUN OUT OF TIME. ENVIRONMENT, WHAT ARE THE TOP PRIORITIES THERE, AND HOW MUCH DO YOU THINK THE LEGISLATURE'S GOING TO BE WILLING TO GO ALONG WITH THIS YEAR?

Vilsack: WELL, BEFORE I ANSWER THAT, LET ME TAKE A DRINK OF WATER. IT HAS TO DO WITH WATER QUALITY. WE HAVE TO FOCUS ON WATER QUALITY... 159 POLLUTED WATERWAYS. WE NEED AN AGGRESSIVE WATER QUALITY INITIATIVE THAT BASICALLY ENCOURAGES AND INCENTS FARMERS TO DO THE RIGHT THING. WE'VE PUT A PROGRAM BEFORE THE LEGISLATURE. I'M CONFIDENT THAT WE'LL GET SOME BIPARTISAN AGREEMENT ON THE SCOPE AND THE NATURE OF THE PROJECT. NOW THE QUESTION IS, HOW MUCH MONEY THE LEGISLATURE'S WILLING TO PUT BEHIND IT.

Obradovich: AND HOW DID THAT WATER TASTE? WAS IT OKAY?

Vilsack: IT'S ALL RIGHT. IT COULD BE BETTER WITH THE WATER QUALITY INITIATIVE.

Borg: JENEANE?

Beck: WORK FORCE DEVELOPMENT, IOWA STILL FACES A WORK FORCE SHORTAGE. HOW CAN YOU ADDRESS THAT?

Vilsack: A WIDE VARIETY OF INITIATIVES, FOCUSING ON HIGH SCHOOL STUDENTS AND MAKING SURE THAT NOT A SINGLE CHILD FALLS THROUGH THE CRACKS. WE CAN'T AFFORD A SINGLE DROPOUT, SO WE HAVE A PROGRAM CALLED JOBS FOR AMERICAN GRADUATES, WHICH WE'RE PROPOSING. THE CORP PROGRAM, WHICH IS DESIGNED TO PROVIDE AN OPPORTUNITY FOR BUSINESS AND COMMUNITY COLLEGES TO MAKE OPPORTUNITIES FOR UNSKILLED WORKERS TO INCREASE THEIR SKILLS, AN ISSUE RELATING TO IMMIGRATION AS NEW IMMIGRANTS COME INTO THE STATE. WE NEED TO DO A BETTER JOB OF INCORPORATING THEM INTO OUR COMMUNITIES AND A BETTER JOB OF HAVING THE COMMUNITIES WELCOME INDIVIDUALS, SO WE'VE GOT A SERIES OF WELCOME CENTERS. THERE ARE A SERIES OF TRAINING PROGRAMS THAT WE'VE PROPOSED A CONTINUATION OF OR EXPANSION OF. THIS IS NOT A PROBLEM THAT CAN BE SOLVED IN THE SHORT TERM; IT'S GOING TO TAKE A NUMBER OF LONG-TERM STRATEGIES. AND LAST BUT NOT LEAST, WE ARE AGGRESSIVELY SAYING TO IOWA'S CHILDREN, CONSIDER IOWA IN YOUR FUTURE. WE DON'T SAY THAT ENOUGH, AND WE HAVE TO MARKET. AND FINALLY, WE'RE MAKING AN EFFORT TO DRAW PEOPLE BACK WHO HAVE LEFT THE STATE. THIS MONTH, OR LAST MONTH, 210,000 LETTERS WENT OUT TO GRADUATES FROM IOWA'S COLLEGES AND UNIVERSITIES INVITING THEM BACK HOME. WE'RE GETTING SOME RESPONSE FROM THAT.

Obradovich: WELL, LET'S TALK REAL QUICK ABOUT THE CAUCUSES, BECAUSE THIS IS THE FIRST CHANCE WE'VE HAD SINCE YOU'VE BEEN OUT. HOW DO YOU THINK IOWA CAUCUSES FAIRED, GIVEN THAT ONE OF THE REPUBLICAN CANDIDATES DIDN'T EVEN COMPETE HERE, WON IN NEW HAMPSHIRE, AND ALSO THE FACT THAT TURNOUT WAS FAIRLY WELL ON BOTH SIDES OF THE SPECTRUM?

Vilsack: WELL, THE ISSUE OF TURNOUT BEING LOW PRESUPPOSES THAT WE HAD ACCURATE NUMBERS FOR PREVIOUS CAUCUSES. I'M NOT CONVINCED OF THAT IN MY OWN MIND. WHAT WE HEARD ANECDOTALLY WAS THAT IN MANY OF THE AREAS, PARTICULARLY THE URBAN CENTERS, THERE WERE LARGER NUMBERS COMING TO THE DEMOCRATIC CAUCUSES THAN EVER BEFORE. I THINK IOWA DID VERY WELL. I THINK WE DID OUR JOB; WE BASICALLY MADE THESE PEOPLE BE REAL PEOPLE. WE GAVE THE NATION A SENSE OF WHAT THEY WERE ALL ABOUT. THEY WENT ON TO NEW HAMPSHIRE, RETAIL POLITICS CONTINUED, AND NOW THE NATION HAS A VERY GOOD SENSE ABOUT THESE INDIVIDUALS AND, AS YOU CAN SEE, THE NATION'S BEGINNING TO MAKE DECISIONS.

Beck: GOVERNOR, QUICKLY, WE KNOW THAT YOU HAVE DECIDED ON A CANDIDATE TO ENDORSE, AND THAT IT IS A DEMOCRAT. WOULD YOU LIKE TO TAKE, TODAY, THE OPPORTUNITY TO LET US KNOW WHO THAT'S GOING TO BE?

Vilsack: WHEN I VISITED WITH THE INDIVIDUAL, I BASICALLY LEFT IT UP TO HIM TO ARRANGE FOR THE TIMING OF THAT, AND I THINK IT'S CONSISTENT WITH MY POSITION. WE'LL LET HIM DECIDE.

Obradovich: ARE WE GOING TO TELL MOST OF THE DEMOCRATIC CAUCUS-GOERS IN THE STATE THAT THEY'RE WRONG?

Vilsack: WELL, LET ME JUST SAY THIS TO YOU THAT THE PERSON I'M SUPPORTING DID SERVE IN THE UNITED STATES SENATE.

Borg: WE'LL WAIT FOR THE ANNOUNCEMENT. THANKS FOR THE HINT.

ON OUR NEXT EDITION OF IOWA PRESS, WE CONTINUE WITH OUR FOCUS ON THE 78TH IOWA GENERAL ASSEMBLY. JOINING US NEXT WEEK, THE REPUBLICAN MAJORITY LEADER IN THE IOWA HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, CHRISTOPHER RANTS, OF SIOUX CITY. MR. RANTS WILL GIVE US HIS PERSPECTIVE ON THE LEGISLATIVE SESSION OF 2000. THAT'S NEXT SUNDAY AT NOON AND 7:00. I HOPE YOU'LL WATCH. UNTIL THEN, I'M DEAN BORG. THANKS FOR JOINING US TODAY.

FUNDING FOR IOWA PRESS WAS PROVIDED BY FRIENDS OF IOWA PUBLIC TELEVISION. AND 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.