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IOWA PRESS #2729 - GOV. TOM VILSACK
March 26, 2000

Borg: THE IOWA LEGISLATIVE SESSION OF 2000 IS NOW IN ITS FINAL MONTH OF ITS REGULAR SESSION, AND A BUDGET SHOWDOWN HAS DEVELOPED. GOVERNOR TOM VILSACK JOINS US TO PROFILE THE EXECUTIVE BRANCH POSITION 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, MARCH 26TH EDITION OF IOWA PRESS. HERE IS DEAN BORG.

Borg: WELL, TWENTY-THREE DAYS REMAIN NOW UNTIL THE SCHEDULED ADJOURNMENT OF THE 78TH IOWA GENERAL ASSEMBLY, AND THERE'S SOME HEAVY LIFTING TO BE DONE BETWEEN NOW AND THEN. BUDGET MATTERS REMAIN LARGELY UNRESOLVED, AS A STANDOFF HAS DEVELOPED BETWEEN THE REPUBLICAN-CONTROLLED LEGISLATIVE BRANCH AND THE DEMOCRATIC EXECUTIVE BRANCH. THE STANDOFF IS REAL ENOUGH FOR SOME STATEHOUSE OBSERVERS TO SUGGEST THAT A SPECIAL LEGISLATIVE SESSION MIGHT BE NEEDED TO SETTLE THE BUDGET DISPUTE. JOINING US TO DISCUSS THE IMPASSE IS GOVERNOR TOM VILSACK, NOW IN HIS SECOND YEAR AS IOWA'S CHIEF EXECUTIVE. GOVERNOR VILSACK, WELCOME BACK TO IOWA PRESS.

Vilsack: THANK YOU, DEAN.

Borg: ACROSS THE TABLE, STATEHOUSE REPORTERS DAVID YEPSEN OF THE DES MOINES REGISTER AND MIKE GLOVER OF THE ASSOCIATED PRESS.

Glover: GOVERNOR, AS DEAN MENTIONED, THERE IS SOMETHING OF A BUDGET SHOWDOWN GOING ON AT THE STATEHOUSE, AND THERE'S A LOT OF DISCUSSION GOING ON BETWEEN YOU AND THE LEGISLATIVE LEADERS. WHAT'S THE STATUS OF BUDGET NEGOTIATIONS WITH LEGISLATIVE LEADERS?

Vilsack: ACTUALLY, MIKE, THERE'S NOT MUCH DISCUSSION GOING ON, AND THAT'S THE PROBLEM. WE'VE REALLY NOT ENTERED INTO MEANINGFUL NEGOTIATIONS ON THE BUDGET AT THIS POINT. MY HOPE IS THAT AS WE GET CLOSER TO APRIL 1, WE'LL BEGIN THE PROCESS OF ACTUALLY SPECIFICALLY TALKING ABOUT WHERE THE DIFFERENCES ARE AND HOW WE CAN RESOLVE THEM.

Glover: LAST I CHECKED THE CALENDAR, WE'RE AT THE END OF MARCH; WE'RE NOT A LONG WAY FROM APRIL. WHAT'S GOING ON HERE? IS THERE SOME POSTURING GOING ON?

Vilsack: NO, I DON'T THINK SO. I THINK, BASICALLY, THERE ARE TWO PROBLEMS. ONE, THERE'S A DISAGREEMENT IN SOME OF THE BUDGET AREAS BETWEEN THE HOUSE AND THE SENATE, AND SO IT'S DIFFICULT FOR THEM TO NEGOTIATE WITH ME UNTIL THEY HAVE A UNIFIED POSITION. SECONDLY, WE'VE NOT COME TO GRIPS WITH THE OVERALL ISSUE OF HOW DO WE LEAD THIS STATE FORWARD. WHAT STEPS DO WE HAVE TO TAKE TO GIVE IOWA A BETTER FUTURE? WE LAID OUT A VERY AGGRESSIVE AGENDA AT THE BEGINNING OF THIS YEAR. WE LAID OUT A BUDGET WHICH WAS BALANCED, WHICH WAS LEGAL, WHICH FUNDED THESE PRIORITIES. REPUBLICANS HAVE A DIFFERENT SET OF PRIORITIES, AND IT'S JUST A MATTER OF US SITTING DOWN AND TALKING.

Yepsen: PART OF THAT CRITICISM, GOVERNOR, IS THAT YOU SPEND TOO MUCH. THEY SAY THAT YOUR TOTAL BUDGET IS SOMETHING LIKE 3.5 PERCENT, THREE TIMES THE RATE OF INFLATION. THEY DON'T THINK IOWA SHOULD SPEND THAT MUCH. WHY DO WE NEED TO SPEND SO MUCH MONEY, GOVERNOR?

Vilsack: WELL, I TELL YOU, DAVID, YOU PICK AN AREA. EDUCATION... WE'VE GONE FROM 23RD IN THE NATION IN TEACHER SALARIES DOWN TO THE MID-30S. IN HEALTH CARE WE HAVE TENS OF THOUSANDS OF YOUNG PEOPLE WITH CHILDREN WHO ARE GOING WITHOUT HEALTH CARE INSURANCE AND, THEREFORE, DON'T GET ACCESS TO PRIMARY HEALTH CARE. WE'VE GOT SPECIAL-NEEDS FAMILIES THAT DON'T ACCESS THE KIND OF HELP THAT THEY NEED IN THE ENVIRONMENT. AS PAUL JOHNSON HAS REPEATEDLY SAID, WE'RE 51ST IN THE NATION, RIGHT BEHIND PUERTO RICO, IN OUR ENVIRONMENTAL SPENDING. WE'VE GOT 159 POLLUTED WATERWAYS. SAFE COMMUNITIES... WE CONTINUE TO FIGHT AGGRESSIVELY THE METHAMPHETAMINE EPIDEMIC. THERE ARE REAL NEEDS IN THIS STATE. BUT, YOU KNOW, IT'S NOT REALLY ABOUT MORE MONEY; IT'S ABOUT WHERE YOU SPEND THE MONEY. THE BIGGEST DIFFERENCES BETWEEN US HAVE TO BE GENERAL FUND SPENDING VERSUS THE INFRASTRUCTURE SPENDING. THAT'S WHERE THE REAL DIFFERENCE IS, AND THAT'S WHAT WE, FRANKLY, HAVE TO TALK ABOUT.

Yepsen: GOVERNOR, THEY ALSO COMPLAIN THAT YOU ARE ROBBING OTHER FUNDS; THAT THERE'S ABOUT -- IN ORDER FOR YOUR BUDGET TO BALANCE, YOU'VE GONE OUT AND TRIED TO TAKE $85 MILLION WORTH OF ONE-TIME MONEYS OR SPECIAL FUNDS. THEY CALL IT GIMMICKRY. THE STATE AUDITOR HAS BEEN CRITICAL OF YOU. HOW DO YOU RESPOND TO THAT?

Vilsack: WELL, THE FACT IS THE FIRST BUDGET THAT THEY PROPOSED WAS THE ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT BUDGET, AND THE FIRST THING THEY DID WAS TO TAKE THE UNEMPLOYMENT SURCHARGE AND USE IT FOR A PURPOSE FOR WHICH THE LAW DOES NOT SUGGEST. THIS, AGAIN, IS NOT ABOUT HOW MUCH MONEY IS BEING SPENT; IT'S ABOUT WHERE THE MONEY IS BEING SPENT. ARE WE SPENDING ADEQUATE RESOURCES ON HIGHER EDUCATION, COMMUNITY COLLEGES, AND THE REGENTS? ARE WE EXPANDING ACCESS TO HEALTH CARE? ARE WE REALLY GOING TO IMPROVE THE ENVIRONMENT? HOW DO WE MAKE OUR SCHOOLS SAFER? HOW DO WE DEAL WITH THIS ISSUE OF GUN VIOLENCE? THESE ARE THE ISSUES THAT CURRENTLY SEPARATE US. AND FRANKLY, AS SOON AS LEADERS FROM THE HOUSE AND THE SENATE ARE READY AND WILLING AND ABLE TO TALK AND WE BEGIN THOSE SERIOUS NEGOTIATIONS, MANY OF OUR DIFFERENCES WILL BE RESOLVED.

Glover: GOVERNOR, YOU'VE ACCURATELY DESCRIBED MANY OF THE SHOWDOWNS THAT WE HAVE AT THE STATEHOUSE, MANY DISAGREEMENTS THAT ARE GOING ON BETWEEN YOU AND REPUBLICANS THAT ARE ON THE LEGISLATURE. GIVE US A ROAD MAP FOR HOW WE GET OUT OF THIS TO THE END OF A SESSION TO A BUDGET THAT ALL SIDES AGREE ON. HOW DO WE END THIS?

Vilsack: WELL, I THINK THE FIRST THING THAT HAS TO BE DISCUSSED BETWEEN MYSELF AND THE LEADERSHIP IS BASICALLY THE OVERALL TOTAL SPENDING. IF YOU TAKE A LOOK AT THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN OUR GENERAL FUND PROPOSAL AND THEIR GENERAL FUND TARGETS, IT'S ABOUT $13 MILLION. LET'S RESOLVE THAT DIFFERENCE. AND SECONDLY, IT'S A QUESTION OF WHERE WE SPEND THE MONEY. WE HAVE, IN MY VIEW, MORE SIGNIFICANT PRIORITIES IN THE GENERAL FUND. THEY VIEW THE INFRASTRUCTURE FUND WITH A GREATER SENSE OF URGENCY. AND WE HAVE TO BASICALLY RESOLVE THE DIFFERENCES BETWEEN WHETHER WE SPEND $28 MILLION IN THE GENERAL FUND ON TUITION REPLACEMENT OR WHETHER WE SPEND IT IN THE INFRASTRUCTURE FUND, WHICH FREES UP $28 MILLION.

Glover: HOW DO YOU GET THERE? DO YOU AND BRENT SIEGRIST HAVE TO GO OFF TO A CABIN SOMEWHERE IN THE WOODS AND LOCK YOURSELVES FOR A WEEKEND? HOW DOES THIS HAPPEN?

Vilsack: NO, I THINK IT HAPPENS THE WAY WE'VE RESOLVED OTHER DIPUTES AND DIFFERENCES. THEY COME DOWN AND THEY SAY, GOVERNOR, WE'RE NOW READY TO TALK. AT THIS POINT IN TIME, THEY HAVEN'T SAID THAT.

Yepsen: ARE YOU PREPARED TO TALK?

Vilsack: CERTAINLY, ABSOLUTELY.

Yepsen: THEY SAY YOU'RE THREATENING THEM WITH A SPECIAL SESSION. ARE YOU THREATENING A SPECIAL SESSION?

Vilsack: I'M NOT THREATENING ANYTHING. I'LL TELL YOU, WHAT I'M CONCERNED ABOUT IT IS THE FUTURE OF THE STATE. THE THREAT, IF THERE'S A THREAT, IS WHAT WILL HAPPEN TO THE STATE IF WE FAIL TO ACT IN EDUCATION, FAIL TO EXPAND ACCESS TO HEALTH CARE, FAIL TO DEAL WITH THE ENVIRONMENT. THAT'S THE THREAT.

Yepsen: PART OF THE PROBLEM THAT THEY HAVE IS THEY SMELL A RAT IN HERE. THEY THINK YOU'RE DOING TO THEM WHAT BILL CLINTON TRIED TO DO TO THE CONGRESS, WHICH WAS TO MAKE THEM LOOK BAD, THAT YOU'VE SUBMITTED A POLITICAL BUDGET, THAT IF YOU DON'T GET EVERY DIME YOU WANT, THEN YOU'RE GOING TO ACCUSE THEM OF BEING AGAINST EDUCATION AND BEING POLLUTERS. HOW DO YOU RESPOND TO THAT FEAR?

Vilsack: I'M NOT TRYING TO DEAL WITH POLITICS; I'M TRYING TO DEAL WITH REAL PROBLEMS THAT AFFECT IOWANS IN A REAL WAY.

Yepsen: IT IS AN ELECTION YEAR, SIR. THEY ARE WORRIED ABOUT THAT.

Vilsack: IT MAY BE, BUT I'M GOING TO TELL YOU IF THEY ADEQUATELY FINANCED THE RESOURCES FOR EDUCATION, IF THEY PUT ADEQUATE RESOURCES INTO OUR COMMUNITY COLLEGE SYSTEM, INTO OUR REGENT SYSTEM, IF THEY ADDRESS 159 POLLUTED WATERWAYS, IF THEY EXPAND ACCESS TO HEALTH CARE FOR CHILDREN, IF THEY DEAL WITH GUN SAFETY ISSUES, I DON'T THINK THEY'RE GOING TO HAVE TO WORRY ABOUT THE NEXT ELECTION. I THINK THEY WILL BE RESPONDING TO THE PEOPLE'S NEEDS.

Yepsen: BUT BY THAT STANDARD, GOVERNOR, THEY CAN NEVER MEET IT. IF THEY CUT ANY OF YOUR BUDGETS, YOU'RE GOING TO BE ACCUSING THEM OF BEING AGAINST EDUCATION. THEY GAVE YOU 4 PERCENT INCREASE IN ALLOWABLE GROWTH. THAT'S WHAT YOU ASKED FOR.

Vilsack: WELL, THAT'S TRUE. THAT WAS A VERY POSITIVE FIRST STEP, BUT WE HAVE TO DEAL WITH TEACHER COMPENSATION; WE HAVE TO DEAL WITH THE NEED FOR ACCELERATED LEARNING OPPORTUNITIES; WE HAVE TO DEAL WITH ALTERNATIVE SCHOOLS, WHICH HASN'T BEEN DEALT WITH. IN THE COMMUNITY COLLEGE AREA, WE'VE STARVED THAT SYSTEM FOR YEARS AND YEARS AND YEARS. WE'RE NOW TRYING TO GET A LITTLE CATCH-UP HERE. THEY CUT THE FUNDING PROPOSAL FOR COMMUNITY COLLEGES, AND WE HAVEN'T EVEN TALKED ABOUT THE SIGNIFICANT REDUCTION IN THE BOARD OF REGENTS PROPOSALS. WE'VE GOT TO ADDRESS THOSE ISSUES, AND WE CAN.

Borg: LET'S GO INTO SOME OF THOSE ISSUES, AND THIS HAS SOME FISCAL IMPACT TOO. IT CONCERNS ELECTRIC POWER DEREGULATION. THAT IS WHERE I MIGHT BE ABLE TO NOT BE TIED TO ONE UTILITY; I COULD BUY FROM WHOEVER. REPUBLICANS SAY IN ORDER TO PASS THAT, WHICH THEY SAY IS IMPORTANT TO THIS STATE, IT'S GOING TO HAVE TO HAVE SOME OVERT SUPPORT FROM YOU IN ORDER TO DELIVER SOME DEMOCRATIC VOTES IN THE LEGISLATURE. ARE YOU PREPARED TO DO THAT?

Vilsack: YOU KNOW, THAT'S A REALLY HARD THING FOR ME TO UNDERSTAND, BECAUSE WHEN REPUBLICANS HAVE PRIORITIES, THEY NEVER EVER HAVE A PROBLEM FINDING 51 VOTES IN THE HOUSE AND 26 VOTES IN THE SENATE. OUR JOB AND OUR RESPONSIBILITY WITH REFERENCE TO THE RESTRUCTURING BILL WAS TO IMPROVE IT, AND WE HAVE. IT'S SIGNIFICANTLY MORE CONSUMER FRIENDLY THAN IT WAS THIS TIME LAST YEAR. IT PROVIDES SIGNIFICANT ENHANCEMENTS FROM THE ENVIRONMENTAL STANDPOINT. WE HAVE IMPROVED THIS BILL TO THE POINT WHERE IT NOW CAN BE PASSED. WITH LEADERSHIP AND DIRECTION FROM HOUSE LEADERS AND SENATE LEADERS, IT CAN AND SHOULD BE PASSED. MANY DEMOCRATS IN MY PARTY FEEL DIFFERENTLY THAN I DO ABOUT THIS ISSUE, AND I RESPECT THOSE DIFFERENCES. WE DID EVERYTHING WE COULD DO TO IMPROVE THIS BILL. IT'S A MUCH BETTER BILL THAN IT WAS LAST YEAR. IT'S NOW UP TO REPUBLICAN LEADERS TO GET IT PASSED.

Glover: ARE YOU GOING TO CAMPAIGN FOR IT? WILL YOU -- I'VE NOT HEARD YOU OVERTLY SAY PUBLICLY, WE NEED TO HAVE THIS BILL; THIS IS AN IMPORTANT BILL FOR IOWA'S FUTURE. IS THAT SOMETHING YOU'RE GOING TO START DOING?

Vilsack: WELL, I HAVE SAID THAT, MIKE. I'VE SAID THAT ON NUMEROUS OCCASIONS, AND I'VE SAID IT IN A NUMBER OF DIFFERENT WAYS. WHEN I SEND MY CHIEF OF STAFF, JOHN NORRIS, INTO A ROOM WITH ALL THE PROPONENTS AND OPPONENTS AND ASK HIM TO BRING PEOPLE CLOSER TOGETHER, AND THIS PROCESS SPANS SEVERAL MONTHS AND, IN FACT, SIGNIFICANT CHANGES IN THE BILL WERE MADE AS A RESULT OF THAT, THAT'S AN INDICATION OF MY FEELING ABOUT THIS. NOW, AM I GOING TO GET DEMOCRATS DOWN IN MY OFFICE AND TWIST ARMS? I'M NOT GOING TO DO THAT BECAUSE THEY FEEL -- THEY HAVE SOME GENUINE CONCERNS ABOUT THIS. MANY OF THE CONSTITUENCY GROUPS THAT SUPPORT DEMOCRATS ARE STRONGLY OPPOSED TO THIS, AND IT'S DIFFICULT TO ASK DEMOCRATIC LEGISLATORS TO DO THIS. FRANKLY, WHAT SHOULD HAPPEN IS FOR THE REPUBLICAN LEADERSHIP TO SIT DOWN WITH THE DEMOCRATIC LEADERSHIP AND DO POLITICS THE WAY POLITICS IS SUPPOSED TO BE DONE, AND THAT IS TO FIND COMMON GROUND. THAT PROCESS DOESN'T HAPPEN VERY OFTEN UPSTAIRS, AND IT OUGHT TO.

Yepsen: GOVERNOR, YOU'RE SAYING THAT THIS RATE-RESTRUCTURING BILL WOULD PROTECT CONSUMERS.

Vilsack: WELL, THERE'S SEVERAL DIFFERENT GROUPS OF CONSUMERS. FIRST OF ALL, THERE'S A STANDARD OPERATING SERVICE AGREEMENT THAT EXTENDS FOR AN EXTENDED PERIOD OF TIME, WHICH BASICALLY MEANS CHANGE THE STATUS QUO AND GIVES PEOPLE CHOICE. SECONDLY, AND THE CONCERN THAT I HAVE IS, THAT THERE ARE A LOT OF SENIOR CITIZENS, A LOT OF PEOPLE ON FIXED INCOMES THAT HAVE A DIFFICULT TIME MAKING THE HEATING BILL DURING THE WINTER MONTHS. THIS BILL PROVIDES FOR A CONTINUATION OF A POOL OF MONEY DESIGNED TO HELP THOSE PEOPLE PAY THEIR BILLS. THAT FUND, WHICH CURRENTLY EXISTS TODAY, IS SET TO SUNSET IN A YEAR OR TWO, AND THERE'S NO ASSURANCE IT WILL BE CONTINUED.

Yepsen: SO IF THIS BILL IS PASSED, YOU WOULD SIGN IT?

Vilsack: WELL, WHEN YOU SAY THIS BILL, THE PROBLEM IS THAT THIS BILL HAS GONE THROUGH SEVERAL GYRATIONS. LET ME TELL YOU THIS: IN ORDER FOR ME TO SUPPORT THE BILL, THERE HAVE TO CONTINUE TO BE CONSUMER PROTECTIONS, THERE HAS TO BE A RENEWABLE PORTFOLIO STANDARD THAT INSURES IOWA'S LEADERSHIP IN RENEWABLE ENERGY. THOSE ARE CRITICAL COMPONENTS TO ANY RESTRUCTURING BILL FROM MY VANTAGE POINT.

Glover: BUT THE WAY THE BILL IS CURRENTLY STRUCTURED, IT'S A BILL YOU'RE FAVORING.

Vilsack: WELL, THAT'S NOT TRUE BECAUSE THERE'S AN AMENDMENT, WHICH SOME REFER TO AS THE VILSACK AMENDMENT, THAT WOULD HAVE TO BE PASSED. THAT VILSACK AMENDMENT ADDRESSES THE ISSUES THAT WE JUST TALKED ABOUT.

Glover: ANOTHER ISSUE THAT'S SITTING AROUND IN THE LEGISLATURE -- IT'S PASSED HOUSE, IT'S AWAITING SENATE DEBATE -- IS A BILL THAT WOULD REQUIRE A 24-HOUR WAITING PERIOD BEFORE A WOMAN CAN OBTAIN AN ABORTION. YOU'RE A CATHOLIC; YOUR CHURCH IS OPPOSED TO ABORTION. WHAT WOULD HAPPEN TO THAT BILL IF IT ARRIVED ON YOUR DESK?

Vilsack: YOU KNOW, MIKE, WE ARE FACED WITH A SIGNIFICANT PROBLEM WITH TEACHERS IN THIS STATE. WE HAVE SIGNIFICANT PROBLEMS WITH TEACHER COMPENSATION AND SUPPORT FOR EDUCATION. YOU MAY THINK THAT'S AN UNUSUAL RESPONSE TO A QUESTION ABOUT ABORTION.

Yepsen: I WAS TRYING TO CONNECT THE DOTS, YEAH.

Vilsack: WELL, THE POINT IS THAT WHAT WE NEED TO BE DOING IS DEALING WITH THE PEOPLE'S BUSINESS. THE PEOPLE'S BUSINESS INVOLVES SETTING AN AGENDA THAT MOVES THE STATE FORWARD: IMPROVING EDUCATION, EXPANDING ACCESS TO HEALTH CARE, AND MAKING SURE THAT THE ENVIRONMENT IS CLEANER AND OUR SCHOOLS AND COMMUNITIES ARE SAFER. THE PROBLEM WITH THE BILL AS PASSED IS A 24-HOUR WAITING PERIOD. THAT PRESUPPOSES THAT WOMEN DO NOT SERIOUSLY CONSIDER WHAT MUST BE ONE OF THE MOST AGONIZING AND PERSONAL DECISIONS THAT ANY WOMAN HAS TO MAKE. IT REALLY ISN'T GOVERNMENT'S CALL, IT SEEMS TO ME, TO COMPEL PEOPLE TO WAIT. THEY HAVE THE ABILITY TO MAKE THAT DECISION THEMSELVES.

Yepsen: GOVERNOR, ANOTHER ISSUE ON THE MINDS OF A LOT OF IOWANS RIGHT NOW, GAS PRICES. WE'RE PAYING A BUCK AND A HALF FOR GAS. IS THERE ANYTHING THE STATE CAN DO ABOUT THIS?

Vilsack: WELL, THE STATE IS DOING SOMETHING ABOUT IT IN THE SENSE THAT WE ARE ADVOCATING FOR RELEASE OF THE STRATEGIC OIL RESERVES, IF AND WHEN THAT BECOMES APPROPRIATE. WE ARE PUSHING AND ADVOCATING FOR THE EXPANDED USE NATIONALLY OF ETHANOL. I JUST RETURNED FROM SAN FRANCISCO WHERE WE HAD AN INTERESTING CONFERENCE ABOUT THE ABILITY OF THE ETHANOL INDUSTRY TO MEET THE NATION'S DEMANDS NOW THAT WE'RE PHASING OUT MTBE. IF WE CAN BECOME AN ETHANOL-PRODUCING NATION, WE WILL LOSE THE DEPENDENCE THAT WE CURRENTLY HAVE ON FOREIGN OIL, WHICH GIVES US A GREATER DEGREE OF FLEXIBILITY. MY UNDERSTANDING IS THAT THESE GAS PRICES ARE LIKELY TO PEAK IN APRIL AND WE'LL SEE A GRADUAL DECLINE OVER THE SUMMER MONTHS.

Yepsen: YOU'RE THE CEO OF ONE OF THE LARGEST ENTERPRISES IN THE STATE. WHAT'S THIS DOING TO YOUR OWN FUEL BILL? ARE YOU GOING TO BE HAVING TO GO TO THE LEGISLATURE TO ASK FOR A SUPPLEMENTAL APPROPRIATION TO PAY FOR GASOLINE TO RUN THE STATE'S VEHICLES?

Vilsack: WELL, IT CLEARLY RESULTS IN REALLOCATION OF RESOURCES. THERE'S NO QUESTION ABOUT THAT. WE'RE KEEPING AN EYE ON IT. CERTAINLY IN THE AREA OF PUBLIC SAFETY, THAT'S A CONCERN. BUT TO MY KNOWLEDGE, BASED UPON INFORMATION I'VE RECEIVED AT THIS POINT, WE'RE NOT FACED WITH A REAL CRITICAL PROBLEM.

Glover: WHAT'S YOUR VIEW AS TO WHAT'S CAUSING THIS RUNUP IN GASOLINE PRICES? I HAVEN'T SEEN A SHORTAGE OF OIL AROUND THE WORLD LATELY. WHAT'S GOING ON?

Vilsack: WELL, I THINK IT'S AN ARTIFICIALLY-CREATED SITUATION IN WHICH LEADERS FROM FOREIGN COUNTRIES ARE ESSENTIALLY LIMITING THE PRODUCTION OF OIL, WHICH CAUSES PRICES TO GO UP. THAT'S WHY I THINK IT'S REALLY IMPORTANT FOR THIS STATE AND FOR THIS COUNTRY TO REALLY PROMOTE ETHANOL. I WAS PLEASED TO SEE THE EPA'S POSITION IN TERMS OF MTBE, PHASING THAT OUT. MY HOPE IS THAT WE CAN KEEP THE OXYGENATED STANDARD SO THAT ETHANOL BECOMES THE ALTERNATIVE.

Glover: ANOTHER ISSUE THAT'S FLOATING AROUND UPSTAIRS IS WHAT'S KNOWN AS THE MILLENNIUM FUND, THIS FUND TO HELP LOCAL GOVERNMENTS BUILD MAJOR TOURIST ATTRACTIONS AND OTHER KINDS OF CULTURAL ENTERTAINMENT CENTERS. WHAT'S THE STATUS OF THAT AND WHAT DO YOU WANT FROM THIS LEGISLATION?

Vilsack: WELL, LET ME REPHRASE THE DESCRIPTION OF THIS FUND JUST A BIT. THIS FUND IS REALLY NOT ABOUT MAJOR ATTRACTIONS AS IT IS ABOUT CREATING AN ENVIRONMENT IN THIS STATE THAT IS CONDUCIVE, PARTICULARLY FOR YOUNG PEOPLE, SENDING A MESSAGE THAT IOWA WANTS YOUNG PEOPLE, WANTS BRIGHT, INTELLIGENT, ENERGETIC, YOUNG PEOPLE TO BE PART OF ITS FUTURE. I'VE WORKED WITH THE LEGISLATIVE LEADERS ON THIS. WE CONTINUE TO HAVE DISCUSSIONS ABOUT THE DIFFERENCES OF THE STRUCTURES, THE ONE THAT WE PROPOSED AND THE ONE THAT THEY PROPOSED. LET ME GIVE YOU SOME PARAMETERS. FIRST OF ALL, WHATEVER SYSTEM WE SET UP HAS TO BE ACCOUNTABLE TO THE PEOPLE. WE CAN'T GO ABOUT SPENDING A SIGNIFICANT AMOUNT OF TAXPAYER RESOURCE UNLESS THERE'S SOME DEGREE OF ACCOUNTABILITY, SOME DEGREE OF MEASURING AND MAKING SURE THAT THE PROGRAM IS WORKING. SECONDLY, I THINK THERE NEEDS TO BE A COMPONENT OF THE PROGRAM THAT ADDRESSES THE MAJOR ATTRACTION OF THE VAST MAJORITY OF IOWA COMMUNITIES, AND THAT IS THE SCHOOLS AND THE SCHOOL BUILDINGS. I THINK OUR DIFFERENCES CAN BE WORKED OUT. IT'S JUST, AGAIN, A MATTER OF SITTING DOWN AND TALKING.

Yepsen: GOVERNOR, THERE ARE A LOT OF RURAL PEOPLE, LOT OF RURAL LEGISLATORS THAT SAY THERE'S NOTHING IN THAT BILL FOR US. WHAT'S IN THAT FOR RURAL IOWA? THEY SAY THIS IS NOTHING BUT A RAIN FOREST FOR CEDAR RAPIDS AND A SPORTS ARENA FOR DES MOINES. HOW DO YOU RESPOND TO THAT?

Vilsack: THE FAILURE -- I SAY TWO THINGS. FIRST OF ALL, THE SCHOOL PIECE IS AN EXTREMELY IMPORTANT PIECE AND ADDRESSES SOME OF THEIR CONCERNS. MOST OF THE MONEY FOR SCHOOL INFRASTRUCTURE AND BUILDINGS WILL PROBABLY GO INTO RURAL, SMALLER COMMUNITIES. SECONDLY, WE HAVE GOT TO STOP THINKING THAT WAY IN THIS STATE. THE FACT IS WE NEED STRONG METROPOLITAN AREAS, WHICH ARE JOB-CREATING ENGINES, JOB-CREATING OPPORTUNITIES, TO KEEP THE YOUNG PEOPLE IN THIS STATE WHILE WE PROVIDE RURAL COMMUNITIES AN OPPORTUNITY TO ASSIST IN HOUSING. THEY ARE JOINED TOGETHER; THEY ARE CONNECTED TOGETHER. SUCCESS IN URBAN IOWA WILL RESULT IN SUCCESS IN RURAL IOWA. FRANKLY, SUCCESS IN RURAL IOWA WILL RESULT IN SUCCESS IN METROPOLITAN IOWA. WE NO LONGER HAVE TWO IOWAS; WE HAVE A SINGLE IOWA FACED WITH A VERY SIGNIFICANT CHALLENGE. I KNOW YOU WANT TO ASK ANOTHER QUESTION, BUT THIS IS IMPORTANT. WHEN WE STARTED AS A STATE, OUR POPULATION WAS 95,000 PEOPLE. BY 1900 WE HAD GROWN TO 2.2 MILLION PEOPLE. WE HAD MORE PEOPLE LIVING IN IOWA THAN CALIFORNIA AND FLORIDA COMBINED. WE WERE THE 13TH LARGEST STATE IN THE COUNTRY, THIRTEEN CONGRESSMEN, PLENTY OF POWER. OVER THE COURSE OF THE NEXT 100 YEARS, WE HAVE FAILED TO GET TO OUR THIRD MILLION, AND WE'RE FURTHER AWAY FROM IT TODAY THAN WE WERE IN 1980. SO WE CAN'T HAVE THE LUXURY OF FUSSING ABOUT RURAL IOWA OR METROPOLITAN IOWA. WE HAVE TO FOCUS ON A STRATEGY, WHICH IS WHAT WE PUT FORWARD TO MOVE THIS STATE FORWARD. THERE IS A SINGLE IOWA.

Glover: LET'S TAKE THE IDEAL. IF YOU COULD STRUCTURE THIS FUND TO BE WHAT YOU VIEW AS THE IDEAL, WHAT WOULD IT LOOK LIKE? WHAT SORT OF PROJECTS WOULD IT BUILD, HOW BIG WOULD IT BE, AND WHAT WOULD THE RESULT BE?

Vilsack: WELL, I THINK THAT THERE'S A CLEAR NEED FOR $300 MILLION, OR PERHAPS MORE IN THIS FUND, TO ADDRESS TWO FUNDAMENTAL PROBLEMS. FIRST, THE NEED TO ATTRACT MAJOR CULTURAL AND RECREATIONAL PROGRAMS WHICH INDIVIDUAL COMMUNITIES BY THEMSELVES PROBABLY CANNOT AFFORD TO BUILD. AND COLLECTIVELY, WE, TOGETHER, NEED TO BUILD THEM. THE RAIN FOREST IS A GOOD EXAMPLE. NOT ONLY IS THAT A TOURISM OPPORTUNITY, BUT PERHAPS MORE IMPORTANTLY IS THE EDUCATIONAL COMPONENT TO THE RAIN FOREST. IT PROVIDES FOR A TEACHING ACADEMY SO THAT OUR TEACHERS CAN CONTINUE TO UPGRADE THEIR SKILLS. THAT'S AN EXTRAORDINARY PART OF THIS PROGRAM, AND HAS STATEWIDE IMPLICATION IN TERMS OF TEACHER QUALITY. AT THE SAME TIME, WE NEED A FUND THAT BASICALLY ADDRESSES THE FACT THAT WE HAVE SOME SCHOOL DISTRICTS THAT CANNOT PASS A 1-CENT SALES TAX. EVEN IF THEY DID, THEY WOULDN'T GENERATE ENOUGH MONEY TO DO ANYTHING MEANINGFUL, BUT THEY HAVE SIGNIFICANT BUILDING NEEDS THAT HAVE TO BE ADDRESSED. THE STATE OUGHT TO BE A PARTNER WITH THOSE LOCAL COMMUNITIES IN TRYING TO ADDRESS THOSE ISSUES. SO THOSE TWO COMPONENTS ARE IMPORTANT. AND FINALLY, THERE HAS TO BE A STRUCTURE THAT HOLDS WHOEVER IS MAKING THE DECISIONS ABOUT THESE PROJECTS ACCOUNTABLE.

Yepsen: GOVERNOR, I WANT TO ASK YOU ABOUT TOBACCO. THE SUPREME COURT RECENTLY KNOCKED DOWN THE FDA'S AUTHORITY TO REGULATE TOBACCO. DOES THIS CHANGE THE STATE'S WAR AGAINST TOBACCO AND EFFORTS TO GET TEENS TO QUIT SMOKING?

Vilsack: I THINK IT ACTUALLY PUTS MORE ONUS ON THE STATES. IT ACTUALLY PROVIDES AND PUTS MORE PRESSURE ON US TO DO A BETTER JOB OF ENFORCEMENT. WE HAD A PROBLEM IN 1998 AND BEFORE IN TERMS OF OUR ENFORCEMENT. WE HAVE PICKED UP THE PACE CONSIDERABLY IN THE LAST YEAR, AND WE'RE NOW ACTUALLY EXCEEDING THE NATIONAL STANDARDS, AND THAT'S GOOD NEWS. THAT'S WHY IT'S SO IMPORTANT TO SET UP AND ESTABLISH A TOBACCO -- THE USE OF THE TOBACCO MONEYS IN A WAY IN WHICH WE CAN BETTER EDUCATE AND BETTER ENFORCE INDIVIDUALS ABOUT THESE TOBACCO LAWS. I THINK IT WAS A WINK AND A NOD WHEN WE SAW YOUNGSTERS SMOKING ON THE CORNERS NEXT TO SCHOOLS AND THAT TYPE OF THING. AND I THINK WE HAVE TO BASICALLY BE MUCH MORE SERIOUS ABOUT THIS.

Yepsen: SHOULD TEENAGERS LOSE THEIR DRIVER'S LICENSE IF THEY'RE CAUGHT SMOKING ILLEGALLY?

Vilsack: YOU KNOW, THE FACT IS THAT'S A VERY IMPORTANT ASPECT TO A TEEN'S LIFE, AND THEY NEED TO UNDERSTAND THAT THERE'S A PENALTY WHEN YOU VIOLATE THE LAW. IT OUGHT TO BE A SERIOUS PENALTY, AND IT OUGHT TO BE ONE THAT MAKES A DIFFERENCE IN THEIR LIFE.

Glover: SO YOU WOULD SUPPORT THAT?

Vilsack: YES.

Glover: MOVING ON TO ANOTHER ISSUE THAT'S BEING DISCUSSED A LOT UP AT THE HILL IS TUITION IN IOWA'S REGENT UNIVERSITIES. THERE HAS BEEN SUGGESTIONS THAT IF THE BUDGET PLAN FOR THE REGENT UNIVERSITIES IS PASSED, IT WILL FORCE DOUBLE-DIGIT TUITION INCREASES. WHAT'S YOUR VIEW ABOUT THE LEVEL OF TUITION THAT IOWA STUDENTS PAY? ARE THEY PAYING ENOUGH OF THE COST OF THEIR OWN EDUCATION OR SHOULD THEY PAY MORE?

Vilsack: WELL, I THINK WE NEED TO SEND A MESSAGE THAT WE'RE GOING TO CONTINUE TO HAVE FIRST-RATE QUALITY REGENTS UNIVERSITIES. ONE OF THE WAYS IN WHICH WE CAN MOVE THIS STATE FORWARD IS BY HAVING QUALITY UNIVERSITIES. LOOK AT IOWA STATE UNIVERSITY, FOR EXAMPLE. WHILE NATIONALLY THEY'RE NOW KNOWN FOR BASKETBALL AND WRESTLING -- AND WE'RE EXTREMELY PROUD OF THEIR EFFORTS IN THAT AREA -- WHAT I THINK ULTIMATELY THAT UNIVERSITY IS GOING TO BE KNOWN FOR IS THE PLANT SCIENCE INITIATIVE, WHICH IS GOING TO DRAW THE BRIGHTEST MINDS OF THE COUNTRY INTO THE MIDWEST TO TALK ABOUT THE MAKEUP OF CORN AND BEANS AND THE THOUSANDS OF PRODUCTS THAT CAN BE DEVELOPED FROM IT. WE HAVE GOT TO SUPPORT THAT KIND OF OPPORTUNITY. WE HAVE TO MAKE IT AFFORDABLE AND ACCESSIBLE. IF WE PRICE THESE YOUNGSTERS OUT OF A COLLEGE EDUCATION HERE IN IOWA, WE WILL LOSE THEM FOREVER. IT IS CLEAR THAT THE BUDGET CUTS WHICH HAVE BEEN PROPOSED WILL SIGNIFICANTLY ALTER AND AFFECT TUITION, AND THAT'S ONE OF REASONS WHY WE HAVE TO SIT DOWN AND WE HAVE TO ASK OURSELVES DOES IT MAKE MORE SENSE TO TAKE $28 MILLION OUT OF THE GENERAL FUND AND APPLY IT TO REDUCING SOME OF THOSE DRASTIC CUTS AND ELIMINATING SOME OF THOSE DRASTIC CUTS AND USE THE MONEY IN THE INFRASTRUCTURE FUND TO PAY FOR TUITION REPLACEMENT, OR DOES IT MAKE MORE SENSE TO MAYBE BUILD ONE OR TWO ADDITIONAL PROJECTS AT THE EXPENSE OF THESE YOUNG PEOPLE. I THINK IT'S CLEAR IT NEEDS TO BE SPENT IN THE GENERAL FUND.

Yepsen: GOVERNOR, WHY SHOULDN'T STUDENTS AT THE STATE UNIVERSITIES PAY MORE IN TUITION? THEY'RE ALREADY PAYING BELOW THE NATIONAL AVERAGE FOR COMPARABLE INSTITUTIONS; WHY SHOULDN'T THEY PAY A HIGHER TUITION?

Vilsack: WE'RE DRAWING YOUNGSTERS FROM THE STATE OF IOWA WHERE THE PER CAPITA INCOME IS SIGNIFICANTLY BELOW THE NATIONAL AVERAGE.

Yepsen: RIGHT, THEN YOU GIVE THEM A COLLEGE EDUCATION AND THEY LEAVE THE STATE.

Vilsack: IT'S A RELATIVE ISSUE. WELL, THEY WON'T BE LEAVING THE STATE IF WE DO OUR JOB RIGHT. IF WE CREATE THE QUALITY OF LIFE, WHICH OUR PROPOSALS THAT WE PUT BEFORE THE LEGISLATURE ARE PASSED, IF WE CREATE THAT QUALITY OF LIFE, THEN WE'RE NOT GOING TO BE LOSING AS MANY YOUNG PEOPLE. IF WE TAKE ADVANTAGE, FOR EXAMPLE, OF THIS WONDERFUL OPPORTUNITY WE HAVE TO CREATE WEALTH EVERY SINGLE YEAR FROM THE GROUND IN TERMS OF AGRICULTURE, IF WE REALLY BECOME THE FOOD CAPITAL, IF WE REALLY CREATE NEW AND EXCITING PRODUCTS MADE FROM CORN AND BEANS, WE'RE NOT GOING TO LOSE THESE YOUNG PEOPLE; WE'RE GOING TO DRAW THESE PEOPLE BACK TO OUR STATE.

Yepsen: AT THE SAME TIME STATE UNIVERSITY STUDENTS GET A BARGAIN ON THEIR TUITION, STUDENTS AT COMMUNITY COLLEGES ARE PAYING ABOVE THE AVERAGE COSTS. WHAT'S BEING DONE TO LOWER THE COST FOR THOSE STUDENTS?

Vilsack: WELL, LAST YEAR WAS THE FIRST TIME IN RECENT MEMORY, OR AS LONG AS ANYBODY CAN REMEMBER, THAT THE COMMUNITY COLLEGE FORMULA WAS FULLY FUNDED BY THIS ADMINISTRATION. WE FULLY FUNDED THE FORMULA. THIS YEAR WE PROPOSED -- WE LISTENED TO THE COMMUNITY COLLEGES. THEY SAID WE NEED 8.9 MILLION NEW DOLLARS. WE FIGURED OUT A WAY, WITHIN OUR BUDGET, TO PROVIDE 8.9 MILLION NEW DOLLARS. SO WE ARE SIGNIFICANTLY INCREASING THE STATE'S ROLE AND CONTRIBUTION TO THE COMMUNITY COLLEGE SYSTEM, WHICH SHOULD STEM THE TIDE OF THESE RECENT TUITION INCREASES. WE'VE ALSO ASKED THE LEGISLATURE TO CREATE SOME FLEXIBILITY WITH REFERENCE TO THE ACCELERATED CAREER EDUCATION PROGRAM SO THAT IT'S NOT JUST USED FOR BUILDINGS, BUT IT'S ALSO USED FOR EQUIPMENT. THOSE TWO MEASURES WILL HAVE A SIGNIFICANT IMPACT IN THE FUTURE.

Glover: THERE'S NO GOOD WAY TO SEGWAY TO THIS NEXT ISSUE, SO LET'S JUST GO DIRECTLY TO IT. IN YOUR CONDITION OF THE STATE SPEECH, YOU ASKED THE LEGISLATURE TO GIVE LOCAL GOVERNMENTS CONTROL OVER SITING OF BIG HOG PRODUCTION FACILITIES. HAVEN'T HEARD MUCH FROM YOU ON THAT ISSUE SINCE THEN.

Vilsack: WELL, WE CONTINUE TO TRY TO ADVOCATE FOR THAT IN A VARIETY OF DIFFERENT FORMS IN SPEECHES THAT WE GAVE THROUGHOUT THE STATE. THE FACT IS THAT THIS LEGISLATURE REFUSED EVEN TO HAVE THE MATTER DISCUSSED OR DEBATED.

Glover: SO THAT'S A DEAD ISSUE?

Vilsack: WELL, I CAN'T FORCE THEM TO DEBATE ISSUES. I CAN BRING IT UP, AND WE'LL CONTINUE TO BRING IT UP; WE'LL BRING IT UP YEAR AFTER YEAR AFTER YEAR UNTIL THEY ULTIMATELY AT LEAST HAVE A DEBATE ABOUT IT. THE PEOPLE OF IOWA DESERVE A DEBATE ON THIS ISSUE. THEY DESERVE TO HAVE A VOTE ON THIS ISSUE. AND TO BOTTLE IT UP IN COMMITTEE, NOT TO BRING IT OUT, NOT TO BRING IT UP ON THE FLOOR FOR A VOTE, INDICATES TO ME THAT THIS IS AN ISSUE THAT HAS POLITICAL IMPLICATIONS, AND IT'S UNFORTUNATE THAT WE'VE ALLOWED POLITICS TO GET IN THE WAY OF A GOOD POLICY DISCUSSION.

Yepsen: SPEAKING OF POLITICS, GOVERNOR, IT'S NEVER AN OFFICIAL "IOWA PRESS" SHOW UNLESS WE --

Vilsack: I THOUGHT THAT'S WHERE MIKE WAS HEADED.

Yepsen: ALL RIGHT, I'LL GO THERE. CAN THE DEMOCRATS CARRY IOWA FOR AL GORE?

Vilsack: YES, I BELIEVE THEY CAN.

Yepsen: WHY?

Vilsack: WELL, FIRST OF ALL, WE'VE BEEN FAIRLY SUCCESSFUL THE LAST THREE PRESIDENTIAL ELECTIONS IN CARRYING IOWA FOR THE DEMOCRATIC CANDIDATE. I THINK THAT THERE'S GOING TO BE A STRONGER FARM ECONOMY IN THE SUMMER. HOG PRICES ARE GOING TO CONTINUE TO GO UP. I THINK THE EXPANSION OF ETHANOL OPPORTUNITIES PURPORTS FOR A GOOD FUTURE FOR IOWA FARMERS. I THINK THAT THERE IS A LEVEL OF PROSPERITY IN THIS COUNTRY THAT PEOPLE ARE GOING TO BE INTERESTED IN PRESERVING. I'M NOT SURE THAT THEY'RE INTERESTED IN BUYING INTO A RISKY TAX-CUT SCHEME THAT GOVERNOR BUSH HAS PROPOSED. FRANKLY, IT'S THE SAME SONG, SECOND VERSE. WE CUT TAXES IN THIS STATE BY $719 MILLION ANNUALLY, AND NOW WE FIND OURSELVES TRYING TO PINCH PENNIES TO FIGURE OUT WHETHER WE PIT COMMUNITY COLLEGE TUITIONS AGAINST REGENTS TUITIONS.

Yepsen: I THINK THE REPUBLICANS SAY WE ALSO HAVE RECORD PROSPERITY.

Vilsack: WE HAVE RECORD PROSPERITY, BUT THE FACT IS THAT WE HAVE UNMET NEEDS. WHEN WE HAVE TEACHER SALARIES THAT ARE WELL BELOW THE NATIONAL AVERAGE, WHEN WE HAVE POLLUTED WATERWAYS, WHEN WE HAVE THOUSANDS OF CHILDREN WHO ARE NOT GETTING HEALTH CARE BECAUSE WE HAVEN'T BEEN ABLE TO FIGURE OUT A WAY TO GET INSURANCE FOR THEM, WE STILL HAVE UNMET NEEDS IN THIS STATE.

Yepsen: WILL THESE HIGH GAS PRICES BE A LIABILITY TO THE VICE PRESIDENT?

Vilsack: I DON'T THINK SO BECAUSE, BASED UPON MY UNDERSTANDING OF WHAT'S GOING TO OCCUR, THEY'RE GOING TO TAPER OFF AND THEY WILL BE BACK DOWN TO A REASONABLE LEVEL BY THE END OF THE SUMMER.

Glover: THERE'S YET ANOTHER DEBATE GOING ON ABOUT -- THIS ELECTION IS BARELY STARTING BUT THERE'S A DEBATE GOING ON ABOUT THE NEXT ELECTION AND THE PRIMARY CALENDAR FOR THE NEXT ELECTION AND WHETHER IOWA WILL BE FIRST. WHAT IS YOUR ROLE IN THAT DEBATE AND HOW DO YOU EXPECT TO PRESERVE IOWA'S FIRST-IN-THE-NATION STATUS?

Vilsack: MY ROLE IS TO ADVOCATE FOR IOWA'S POSITION, AND I CONTINUE TO DO THAT IN NATIONAL MEETINGS ACROSS THE COUNTRY. I'M WORKING WITH CHAIRMAN TULLY IN TERMS OF CONVINCING THE DEMOCRATIC NATIONAL COMMITTEE AND ITS RULES PROCESS THAT IT ISN'T APPROPRIATE TO CHANGE THE SYSTEM THAT HAS WORKED. IOWA AND NEW HAMPSHIRE HAVE WORKED WELL. WE ARE SUPPORTING THE NATIONAL GOVERNOR'S ASSOCIATION MOVE TO ESSENTIALLY SUPPORT THE SECRETARY OF STATE'S PROPOSAL, WHICH CALLS FOR A SERIES OF REGIONAL PRIMARIES WITH THE UNDERSTANDING THAT IOWA AND NEW HAMPSHIRE CONTINUE TO HAVE THEIR FIRST-IN-THE-NATION STATUS. THAT SEEMS TO ME TO BE A REASONABLE APPROACH.

Glover: MECHANICALLY, HOW DOES THAT HAPPEN? DO YOU HAVE TO GO THROUGH THE DEMOCRATIC NATIONAL COMMITTEE'S RULES COMMITTEE AND THEN THE CONVENTION OR --

Vilsack: WELL, THERE'S A PROCESS IN WHICH ESSENTIALLY THE RULES COMMITTEE VOTES ON THE CALENDAR, IF YOU WILL. WE'RE GOING TO AGGRESSIVELY INDICATE TO THEM THAT WE THINK THIS PROCESS HAS WORKED. WE THINK IOWA'S DONE ITS JOB WELL IN TERMS OF MAKING THESE CANDIDATES BE REAL PEOPLE BEFORE THEY GO OUT AND BECOME TELEVISION PEOPLE. WE'VE DONE A GOOD JOB AT THAT. WE DESERVE THE RIGHT TO CONTINUE. THE FACT IS WE'VE BEEN DOING THIS FOR OVER TWENTY YEARS AND DOING IT WELL. AND WE WORK WELL WITH NEW HAMPSHIRE BECAUSE THE CAUCUS PRIMARY PROCESS BASICALLY TESTS BOTH THE ORGANIZATION AND THE MESSAGE. THERE'S REALLY NO REASON TO CHANGE THIS OTHER THAN SOME STATES BELIEVE THAT THERE'S ECONOMIC ADVANTAGE, WHICH THERE IS. BUT THE FACT IS AS SOON AS YOU START TRYING TO RECRAFT A NEW SITUATION OR NEW PROCESS, YOU GET EVERYBODY FIGHTING OVER IT. IOWA'S DONE THE JOB. IT SHOULD REMAIN.

Yepsen: WILL AL GORE HELP US IN THAT?

Vilsack: I BELIEVE HE WILL.

Yepsen: HE'S PROMISED TO KEEP IOWA AND NEW HAMPSHIRE --

Vilsack: I BELIEVE HE WILL. I BELIEVE HE WILL. I THINK HE -- OBVIOUSLY, HE HAD A VERY GREAT LEVEL OF SUCCESS HERE IN THE STATE, AND I THINK HE SPENT A LOT OF TIME, AND HE HAS A FONDNESS FOR US. I THINK HE UNDERSTANDS THE ROLE THAT IOWA PLAYS AND HOW WELL WE DO IT.

Yepsen: WILL HIS ETHICS PROBLEMS CAUSE HIM PROBLEMS WITH IOWA VOTERS? BUDDHIST TEMPLE... IOWANS GENERALLY LIKE THEIR POLITICIANS TO BE FAIRLY ETHICAL.

Vilsack: I THINK THAT THE VICE PRESIDENT HAS COME FORWARD, HE'S EXPLAINED THE SITUATION, AND I THINK HE WANTS TO MOVE ON. I'VE BEEN IMPRESSED WITH THE FACT THAT HE'S BEEN SO FORCEFUL ABOUT CAMPAIGN FINANCE REFORM. HE WANTS TO REFORM THE WAY WHICH WE DEBATE ISSUES. I THINK IT'S CERTAINLY REFRESHING TO KNOW THAT HE'S INTERESTED IN GOING BEFORE THE PEOPLE ON A REPEATED BASIS AND SORT OF DOING AWAY WITH THE 30-SECOND, 60-SECOND ATTACK COMMERCIALS. I THINK THAT WOULD BE A POSITIVE SIGN. I WISH THAT WE WOULD HAVE THAT KIND OF DEBATE IN IOWA, WHICH IS WHY WE PROPOSED CAMPAIGN FINANCE REFORM, WHY WE PROPOSED AN HONEST DISCLOSURE ON THESE PUSH-POLL TELEPHONE CALLS THAT ARE OBNOXIOUS AND, I THINK, OFFEND THE SENSIBILITIES OF MOST IOWANS. UNFORTUNATELY, THAT DIDN'T OCCUR; IT SHOULD HAVE.

Borg: WE'RE OUT OF TIME, GOVERNOR. THANK YOU VERY MUCH FOR BEING HERE TODAY. ON OUR NEXT EDITION OF "IOWA PRESS," THE FOCUS CONTINUES ON THE BUDGET CONFLICT AT THE IOWA LEGISLATURE. JOINING US NEXT WEEK, TWO LEGISLATORS WHO ARE ON THE FRONT LINES OF THE BUDGET BATTLE: REPUBLICAN REPRESENTATIVE DAVE MILLAGE OF BETTENDORF, WHO CHAIRS THE HOUSE APPROPRIATIONS COMMITTEE; AND SENATOR TOM FLYNN OF EPWORTH, WHO IS THE RANKING DEMOCRAT ON THE SENATE APPROPRIATIONS COMMITTEE. REPRESENTATIVE MILLAGE AND SENATOR FLYNN WILL DISCUSS THE CONFLICT AND MAYBE POTENTIAL SOLUTIONS. THAT'S NEXT SUNDAY AT NOON AND 7:00 HERE ON IOWA PRESS. UNTIL THEN, I'M DEAN BORG. THANKS FOR BEING WITH 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.