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Iowa Press #2731 - Rep. Brent Siegrist
April 9, 2000

Borg: WITH TIME RUNNING OUT IN THE SECOND SESSION OF THE 78TH IOWA GENERAL ASSEMBLY, BUDGET MATTERS REMAIN A POINT OF CONFLICT BETWEEN THE EXECUTIVE AND LEGISLATIVE BRANCHES. SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE BRENT SIEGRIST GIVES HIS ASSESSMENTS 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, APRIL 9th EDITION OF IOWA PRESS. HERE IS DEAN BORG.

Borg: WELL, JUST NINE DAYS REMAIN BEFORE THE SCHEDULED ADJOURNMENT OF THE 78TH IOWA GENERAL ASSEMBLY. TUESDAY, APRIL 18th IS THE 100TH DAY OF THE SCHEDULED 100-DAY SESSION. AT THIS HOUR IT'S NOT KNOWN IF LEGISLATIVE BUSINESS CAN REALLY BE CONCLUDED BY THAT TIME. THE NEW IOWA BUDGET REMAINS UNRESOLVED, AND WHILE SOME STATEHOUSE INSIDERS SUGGEST THAT PROGRESS IS BEING MADE, IT'S OBVIOUS THAT A NUMBER OF ISSUES AREN'T SETTLED. OTHER STATEHOUSE INSIDERS SAY A SPECIAL SESSION MIGHT BE NEEDED. IN GENERAL, REPUBLICANS AND DEMOCRATS DON'T SEE EYE TO EYE ON THE DYNAMICS OF THE PROPOSED $4.9-BILLION BUDGET, AND THE STANDOFF IS BOTH PHILOSOPHICAL AND ISSUE SPECIFIC. THE POLITICAL IMPASSE IS PERSONALIZED BETWEEN IOWA'S FIRST DEMOCRATIC GOVERNOR IN 30 YEARS AND THE REPUBLICAN-CONTROLLED LEGISLATURE. GOVERNOR TOM VILSACK WAS OUR GUEST AT THE IOWA PRESS TABLE THREE WEEKENDS AGO, AND TODAY WE'LL QUESTION SPEAKER OF THE IOWA HOUSE BRENT SIEGRIST, NOW COMPLETING HIS FIRST FULL YEAR AS LEADER OF THE MAJORITY REPUBLICANS IN THE IOWA HOUSE. REPRESENTATIVE SIEGRIST, WELCOME BACK TO IOWA PRESS.

Siegrist: GOOD TO BE HERE, DEAN.

Borg: WE'RE INTERESTED IN SEEING WHAT YOU HAVE TO SAY ON THAT PERSPECTIVE TODAY. ACROSS THE TABLE, STATEHOUSE REPORTERS DAVID YEPSEN OF THE DES MOINES REGISTER AND MIKE GLOVER OF THE ASSOCIATED PRESS.

Glover: MR. SPEAKER, THERE HAS BEEN A LOT OF CROSSFIRE DURING THIS LEGISLATIVE SESSION; SOMETIMES WE LOSE THE FOREST FOR THE TREES. WHAT WILL THIS SESSION BE REMEMBERED FOR? AS YOU SEND YOUR MEMBERS BACK TO THE CAMPAIGN TRAIL, WHAT DO YOU NEED IT TO BE REMEMBERED FOR?

Siegrist: WELL, A VARIETY OF THINGS. ONE OF THE THINGS IT WILL BE REMEMBERED FOR IS THAT WE'RE GOING TO PUT TOGETHER A BUDGET THAT DOESN'T VIOLATE THE 99-PERCENT SPENDING LIMITATION LAW, AND IT DOESN'T RAID THE CASH RESERVE FUND. I THINK THAT'S CRITICALLY IMPORTANT. I THINK IT WILL ALSO BE REMEMBERED FOR SOME SIGNIFICANT INVESTMENTS, CONTINUED INVESTMENTS IN EDUCATION, AND SOME THINGS WE'RE GOING TO DO ON QUALITY OF LIFE AS WELL AS ECONOMIC COMPETITIVENESS AND, SPECIFICALLY, A SENIOR LONG-TERM CARE PIECE. IF THE CLINTON-GORE ADMINISTRATION WILL APPROVE WHAT WE PASSED, WE'LL MAKE LANDMARK CHANGES IN ASSISTED LIVING AND KEEPING SENIORS IN THEIR HOME. THE WATER QUALITY BILL, WHICH WE HAVE ANNOUNCED AN AGREEMENT ON, IS EXTREMELY IMPORTANT. WE INTEND TO GET THE ÎVISION IOWA PROJECTâ/ ÎMILLENNIUM FUNDâ DONE, WHICH WILL BE SOMETHING THAT WILL BE FOR THE FUTURE OF IOWA. SO I THINK THERE'S A VARIETY OF THINGS.

Glover: WHAT DOES IT SAY THAT THE THINGS YOU WANT A REPUBLICAN-CONTROLLED LEGISLATURE REMEMBERED FOR ARE BIG, NEW SPENDING PROJECTS?

Siegrist: WELL, THEY'RE WITHIN THE CONFINES OF THE BUDGET. OUR GENERAL FUND BUDGET, WITH OUR BUDGET TARGETS RIGHT NOW AND I BELIEVE WHEN WE GO HOME, WILL BE LESS THAN A 3-PERCENT SPENDING INCREASE IN THE GENERAL FUND. OBVIOUSLY, THE MILLENNIUM FUND, THAT IS SOMETHING THAT COMES OUT OF OUR INFRASTRUCTURE MONEY, WHICH IS OUR GAMING MONEY. THE SENIOR LONG-TERM CARE THING, THAT'S PULLING DOWN FEDERAL MONEY. SO WE'RE GOING TO HAVE OUR LOWEST SPENDING INCREASE IN THE GENERAL FUND, I THINK, IN FIVE YEARS AND, YET, WHAT WE'RE DOING IS REALLOCATING AND BEING, I THINK, A LITTLE TIGHTER WITH OUR SPENDING.

Yepsen: MR. SPEAKER, NAME ME ONE PROBLEM THIS LEGISLATURE WILL SOLVE.

Siegrist: WELL, WATER QUALITY WILL BE ONE.

Yepsen: YOU'RE TELLING ME THAT AFTER THIS SESSION OF THE LEGISLATURE WE WILL BE NO LONGER BE DISCUSSING --

Siegrist: IT WON'T BE SOLVED, NO, DAVID.

Yepsen: BECAUSE I HAVE A SENSE, MR. SPEAKER, THAT YOU'RE REALLY NOT SOLVING ANY PROBLEMS; YOU'RE JUST KIND OF TINKERING AROUND. YOU MAKE A LITTLE PROGRESS ON EDUCATION, A LITTLE PROGRESS ON THAT, DO LITTLE THINGS WITHOUT REALLY SOLVING ANYTHING.

Siegrist: WELL, SOME OF THOSE PROBLEMS ARE GOING TO BE LITERALLY IMPOSSIBLE TO SOLVE IN ONE YEAR, BUT I THINK WE'LL MAKE MAJOR STEPS IN WATER QUALITY. QUALITY-OF-LIFE ISSUES, I THINK YOU'LL SEE MAJOR STEPS HAPPENING THERE. EDUCATION, AGAIN, WE'RE FOCUSING IN ON, PARTICULARLY, ZERO THROUGH EIGHT. I THINK WE'RE MAKING GOOD STEPS THERE. THE ISSUE OF TEACHER PAY IS A HUGE ISSUE WE HAVE TO ADDRESS, BUT THAT'S GOING TO BE A LONG-TERM PROSPECT ALSO.

Yepsen: AND WILL THERE BE A SPECIAL SESSION? DEAN MENTIONED THERE'S A LOT OF TENSION UP THERE. GOING TO BE COMING BACK IN JUNE?

Siegrist: ACTUALLY, I THINK THE TENSION HAS SUBSIDED SOMEWHAT. WE'VE BEEN IN CONVERSATIONS WITH THE GOVERNOR ALL WEEK. THERE MAY BE SOME TENSIONS WITH THE MINORITY DEMOCRATS BECAUSE MOST OF OUR NEGOTIATION, FRANKLY, IS BEING DONE WITH THE GOVERNOR. HE'S THE LEADER OF THEIR PARTY. THE ANSWER TO YOUR QUESTION IS NO, I DO NOT ANTICIPATE A SPECIAL SESSION.

Yepsen: WE'RE SAFE IN MAKING OUR VACATION PLANS?

Siegrist: I THINK SO.

Glover: LET ME TURN DAVE'S QUESTION ON ITS EAR A LITTLE BIT. LET'S ASSUME THAT THIS IS JUST A TINKERING SESSION AND YOU'RE JUST GOING TO TINKER AROUND THE EDGES, PLAY WITH THIS, PLAY WITH THAT. WHAT'S WRONG WITH THAT? I DON'T HEAR A BIG DEMAND OUT THERE TO TURN STATE GOVERNMENT ON ITS EAR. MOST POLLS I'VE SEEN SAY PEOPLE ARE PRETTY HAPPY WITH THE WAY THINGS ARE GOING. WHAT'S WRONG WITH JUST TINKERING?

Siegrist: AGAIN, I WOULDN'T CHARACTERIZE IT AS TINKERING, BUT THAT'S YOUR JOB TO DO THAT, IF YOU CHOOSE. I THINK WE'RE MAKING SOME MAJOR PROGRESS, BUT THE ANSWER TO YOUR QUESTION IS I DON'T THINK ANYTHING IS WRONG. I THINK THIS SESSION IS GOING TO BE REMEMBERED FOR SOME THINGS THAT SET US UP INTO THE FUTURE, BE IT COMMUNITY PROJECTS, SCHOOL INFRASTRUCTURE, HEALTH CARE WITH THE TOBACCO MONEY. THESE THINGS ARE GOING TO HAVE LONG-TERM, POSITIVE IMPACT. ALTHOUGH YOU MAY CHARACTERIZE THEM AS TINKERING, I DON'T THINK THAT I WOULD.

Borg: ONE OF THOSE LONG-TERM THINGS THAT YOU HAVE SPOKEN ABOUT THERE IS ELECTRIC UTILITY DEREGULATION. BIG IMPACT, BUT NOT A LOT OF PEOPLE UNDERSTAND WHAT'S GOING ON AND WHAT EFFECT IT WILL HAVE. WHAT ARE THE PROSPECTS FOR GETTING THAT DONE THIS TIME?

Siegrist: WELL, WE'RE GOING TO PUSH VERY, VERY HARD TO GET THIS THING DONE. THE SENATE IS GOING TO BE LOOKING AT IT STARTING TOMORROW, ON MONDAY. THE HOUSE HAS GOT IT OUT OF COMMITTEE AND, FRANKLY, IT'S BECOME SOMEWHAT OF A POLITICAL FOOTBALL. WE HAVE, I WOULD SAY, SOMEWHERE AROUND 40 AND MAYBE A FEW MORE REPUBLICAN VOTES IN THE HOUSE. FROM DAY ONE WE HAVE SAID THIS WILL HAVE TO BE DONE BIPARTISANLY BECAUSE OF THE COMPLEXITY OF IT, WE KNEW WE WOULDN'T HAVE 51 REPUBLICAN VOTES. IN THE SENATE THERE SEEMS TO BE SOME MORE FLEXIBILITY ON THE SIDE OF THE MINORITY PARTY. IN THE HOUSE, DEMOCRATS, SOME OF THEM WHO I THINK WOULD LIKE TO VOTE FOR IT, AREN'T WILLING TO VOTE FOR IT BECAUSE OF SOME, I THINK, PRESSURES WITHIN THE HOUSE. YET THE STATE'S LEADING DEMOCRAT, THE GOVERNOR OF THE STATE, TOM VILSACK, HAS MADE IT VERY CLEAR, THREE WEEKS AGO AT THIS SEAT, SAYING THIS IS AN IMPORTANT THING TO DO. I'M HOPEFUL THAT THE MINORITY PARTY MEMBERS IN THE HOUSE WILL LISTEN TO THEIR GOVERNOR AND AT LEAST STEP UP TO THE PLATE AND TALK TO US ABOUT THIS. WE'RE WILLING TO MAKE SOME ADDITIONAL CHANGES. AN ACROSS-THE-BOARD RATE CUT, WE THINK THAT'S IMPORTANT. WE'RE WILLING TO CONSIDER A SMALL ACROSS-THE-BOARD RATE CUT FOR THE CITIZENS OF IOWA.

Borg: BUT IT MAY BE SIGNIFICANT. HE DIDN'T SAY HE WAS GOING TO TWIST ANY ARMS IN THERE. WE SPECIFICALLY ASKED HIM.

Siegrist: HE HAS SAID THAT, AND THE GOVERNOR WAS EXTREMELY HELPFUL GETTING US TO THIS POINT. YET, IN THE HOUSE, IN PARTICULAR, THE HOUSE DEMOCRATS, WHERE I KNOW 12 TO 15 OF THEM AT LEAST HAVE SOME INTEREST IN IT, ARE BASICALLY, I THINK, NOT BEING FORCED. NOBODY'S FORCED TO DO ANYTHING BUT ARE BEING CAUTIONED NOT TO JUMP ON BOARD THIS PARTICULAR BILL. I THINK THAT'S UNFORTUNATE. IT'S AN IMPORTANT BILL FOR THE FUTURE.

Yepsen: WHY? WHAT'S IN THIS BILL -- IT WILL AFFECT EVERYBODY'S LIGHT BILL, SO MAYBE THAT'S ENOUGH RIGHT THERE, BUT WHAT'S IN IT FOR IOWANS? WHY IS THIS IMPORTANT?

Siegrist: WELL, FIRST OFF, 25 STATES HAVE ALREADY GONE TO ELECTRIC RESTRUCTURING, ABOUT 60 PERCENT OF THE POPULATION. SO IT IS GOING TO HAPPEN, BUT IT'S IMPORTANT. FOR EXAMPLE, THE SOUTHERN ZONE OF IOWA HAS LOW RATES RIGHT NOW BECAUSE OF SOME MERGERS AND SO ON. THOSE RATES ARE GOING TO GO UP, PROBABLY NEXT YEAR, REGARDLESS IF WE PASS THIS OR NOT. THIS BILL WOULD GUARANTEE THOSE RATES WOULD NOT GO UP NEXT YEAR. BUT IF WE DON'T PASS THIS RESTRUCTURING BILL, SOUTHERN IOWA IS GOING TO GET A RATE CASE NEXT YEAR AND THEY'RE GOING TO GET A RATE INCREASE. BUT IT'S IMPORTANT TO BRING COMPETITION INTO THE INDUSTRY, DAVID. WE'RE VERY GOOD AT WHAT WE DO, AND WE THINK WE CAN COMPETE VERY, VERY WELL. WE THINK LONG-TERM IT WILL BE GOOD FOR ECONOMIC VIABILITY AND IT WILL BE GOOD FOR CONSUMERS. AGAIN, THE GOVERNOR OF THE STATE, GOVERNOR VILSACK, IS NOT SOME GUY THAT'S GOING TO GO OUT THERE AND GO AGAINST THE UNIONS AND SO ON FOR FUN. HE THINKS THIS IS IMPORTANT TO THE ECONOMIC VIABILITY OF THE STATE. REPUBLICANS AGREE WE NEED SOME DEMOCRAT HELP.

Glover: WHAT'S THE RUSH? IT'S A COMPLICATED ISSUE; IT'S A COMPLICATED BILL. MOST LEGISLATURES WILL CONCEDE, YEAH, WE'VE BEEN WORKING ON THIS FOR A COUPLE OF YEARS, BUT WE REALLY DON'T UNDERSTAND IT. WHAT'S THE RUSH? WHY DO YOU HAVE TO DO IT IN THE NEXT TWO WEEKS?

Siegrist: IT IS NOT A RUSH BECAUSE THIS WILL BE OUR THIRD YEAR WE'VE BEEN WORKING ON IT, STARTING WITH CHANGING THE WAY WE TAX THE UTILITIES. SO THIS IS OUR THIRD YEAR THROUGH. I KNOW SOME OF THE OPPONENTS SAY WE NEED TO STUDY IT SOME MORE. WE'VE BEEN WORKING ON THIS FOR THREE YEARS.

Glover: JUST LAST WEEK AN ETHANOL BILL CAME OUT OF THE COMMITTEE IN THE SENATE, WOULD REQUIRE EACH GAS STATION IN THE STATE TO OFFER ETHANOL AT THE LOWEST OCTANE GRADE. DOES THAT BILL HAVE A FUTURE?

Siegrist: I THINK IT HAS A FUTURE, PARTS OF IT. IT'S SOMETHING THAT I HAVE SAID TO THE SENATE, IF IT COMES TO THE HOUSE, WE WILL CONSIDER IT, CERTAINLY. I ORIGINALLY, I GUESS I STILL DO, HAVE SUPPORTED THAT CONCEPT, ALTHOUGH THERE'S A LOT OF NEW INFORMATION COMING TO THE FOREFRONT AS IT RELATES TO REQUIRING THE LOWEST OCTANE B ETHANOL. THERE ARE SERIOUS CONCERNS BY SOME LEGISLATORS THAT IT WOULD ACTUALLY RAISE THE PRICE OF ETHANOL, IF YOU MAKE IT BLENDED IN THAT LOWER OCTANE. CERTAIN GROUPS DISAGREE WITH THAT, BUT WE NEED TO GET TO THE BOTTOM OF THAT BECAUSE WE NEED TO PROMOTE ETHANOL BUT NOT RAISE THE PRICE OF ETHANOL. THAT WOULD BE A STEP BACKWARD. I THINK IT HAS A 50/50 FUTURE.

Yepsen: MR. SPEAKER, YOU CAN'T GET THE VOTES TO MANDATE THAT ALL GAS IN IOWA BE ETHANOL. SO YOU'RE DOING THIS TO THROW A BONE TO THE CORN GROWERS, AND YET THE INDUSTRY SAYS THERE'S ONLY ABOUT 10 PERCENT OF THE GAS STATIONS IN IOWA THAT THIS IS GOING TO AFFECT. MUCH OF A BONE, IS IT?

Siegrist: WELL, IF YOU DO THE LOWEST OCTANE AND IF THAT PROVES TO BE THE RIGHT THING TO DO, THEN I THINK IT WOULD MAKE IT MUCH MORE PREVALENT AND SHOULD INCREASE MARKET SHARE. THERE ARE OTHER PIECES IN THERE, THOUGH, THAT DO HELP INCREASE MARKET SHARE.

Yepsen: I WANT TO SWITCH GEARS ON YOU HERE AND GO TO EDUCATION ISSUES. THE DEMOCRATS, THE GOVERNOR, ARE CRITICAL OF THIS LEGISLATURE FOR SHORTING EDUCATION. THEY SAY YOU'RE SHORTING THE COMMUNITY COLLEGES, YOU'RE SHORTING THE REGENTS INSTITUTIONS, YOU'RE NOT DOING ENOUGH ON TEACHER SALARIES. WHAT'S YOUR RESPONSE TO THAT CRITICISM?

Siegrist: THAT IT'S MISLEAD. EVERY AREA OF EDUCATION WILL GET AN INCREASE UNDER OUR BUDGETS. AS WE WORK THROUGH THE LAST TWO WEEKS, THERE MAY BE SOME INCREASES YET, GIVEN SOME OF THE FLEXIBILITY WITHIN THE BUDGET. K-12 EDUCATION HAS BEEN TREATED EXTREMELY -- I WON'T SAY EXTREMELY WELL, THEY'VE BEEN TREATED WELL. WE HAVE BASICALLY HAD CONVERSATIONS WITH THE GOVERNOR. WE AGREED ON A 4-PERCENT ALLOWABLE GROWTH; ANOTHER $30 MILLION FOR SCHOOL TECHNOLOGY; ANOTHER $10 MILLION FOR EARLY CHILDHOOD -- EXCUSE ME, CLASS SIZE AND READING PROGRAMS; ON DOWN THE LINE. COMMUNITY COLLEGES ARE GETTING A 4.4-PERCENT INCREASE IN THEIR BASE BUDGET. THAT'S A $6-MILLION INCREASE. AND OUR COMMUNITY COLLEGES, FOR EXAMPLE, THE GOVERNOR RECOMMENDED 8.4 MILLION FOR GENERAL FUND. ON THE OTHER HAND, THE 260-F AGREEMENTS, WHICH WERE WORKFORCE DEVELOPMENT, WHICH ARE VERY VITAL TO COMMUNITY COLLEGES, HE REDUCED THAT. SO HE GAVE ON ONE HAND, TOOK A LITTLE ON THE OTHER. WE'RE GOING TO RESTORE THAT WORKFORCE DEVELOPMENT MONEY, AND WE'RE AT ABOUT $6 MILLION ON THE GENERAL FUND INSTEAD OF 8.4. TOGETHER THEY'RE NOT BEING SHORTED AT ALL, AND THEY'RE NOT CLAMORING AT MY DOOR SAYING THEY'RE GETTING SHORTCHANGED. THEY WOULD LIKE MORE, EVERYBODY WOULD. BUT MY ANSWER IS, NO, I DON'T THINK THEY'RE RIGHT.

Yepsen: THERE ARE A LOT OF COLLEGE STUDENTS AT THE STATE UNIVERSITIES THAT ARE COMPLAINING THAT THIS BUDGET -- THAT BOTH THE GOVERNOR AND THE LEGISLATURE ARE PROPOSING THEM -- THEY WERE COMPLAINING ABOUT TOM VILSACK'S BUDGET. NOW THEY'RE REALLY COMPLAINING; THEY SAY IT'S GOING TO BE A TUITION INCREASE. WHAT DO YOU SAY TO THAT?

Siegrist: WELL, FIRST OFF, YOU SAID THEY WERE COMPLAINING ABOUT -- THE FIRST PART OF THAT WAS THE GOVERNOR, HIS SALARY BILL DID UNDERFUND, IF YOU WILL, SALARIES FOR REGENTS, SOMETHING WE HAVE RESISTED THE LAST FIVE YEARS. THE GOVERNOR UNDERFUNDED IT, I BELIEVE, ABOUT $8.5 MILLION. THERE WAS A LITTLE SWELL THEN BUT, OF COURSE -- I DON'T KNOW, MAYBE IT'S BECAUSE HE'S A DEMOCRATIC GOVERNOR, WE DIDN'T HAVE STUDENTS MARCHING ON THE CAPITOL. BUT WHEN WE DO IT, THEY'RE MARCHING ON THE CAPITOL. THE ANSWER IS THIS: THE REGENTS WILL RECEIVE AN INCREASE. WHEN YOU CONSIDER EVERYTHING, INCLUDING SALARIES, THIS IS A $12-MILLION INCREASE FOR THE REGENTS, AND I WILL SAY THAT AS THE EDUCATION BUDGET MOVES THROUGH THIS PROCESS, THE REGENTS WILL HAVE SOME OF THAT MONEY RESTORED. I WON'T CONSIDER THEM SHORTCHANGED.

Glover: ONE OF THE JOYS OF BEING SPEAKER IS YOU GET TO GET IT FROM BOTH DIRECTIONS. YOU'RE GETTING BEATEN UP BY STUDENTS FOR UNDERFUNDING THE REGENTS, BUT YOU'RE GETTING SOME QUIET CRITICISM FROM THE RIGHT ABOUT YOUR OVERALL SPENDING LEVELS. DAVE TOUCHED ON IT EARLIER. YOUR SPENDING INCREASE IS GOING TO BE A COUPLE, THREE TIMES THE RATE OF INFLATION; IT HAS BEEN FOR SEVERAL YEARS. WHAT DO YOU SAY TO CHARGES THAT CONSERVATIVE REPUBLICANS JUST CAN'T HOLD DOWN STATE SPENDING? THEY TALK TOUGH ABOUT SPENDING, BUT THEY END UP DOUBLING, TRIPLING THE RATE OF INFLATION.

Siegrist: WELL, THIS YEAR I DON'T THINK THAT WILL BE THE CASE BECAUSE OUR GENERAL FUND SPENDING, WITH OUR BUDGET TARGETS, IS ABOUT A 2.3-PERCENT INCREASE IN GENERAL FUND SPENDING. WHEN IT'S ALL SAID AND DONE, IT'S GOING TO BE A LITTLE BIT HIGHER BECAUSE WE HAVE SOME FLEXIBILITY. SO WE ARE, AS I SAID, GOING TO LOOK AT OUR LOWEST LEVEL OF GENERAL FUND SPENDING, I BELIEVE IT'S IN SIX YEARS. SO THERE ARE CERTAIN NEEDS OF STATE GOVERNMENT, AS WE TRY TO TAKE CARE OF SOME OF THE EDUCATIONAL PROBLEMS -- MAYBE YOU WOULD CHARACTERIZE IT AS WE TINKER WITH THE SOLUTIONS -- YOU DO HAVE TO INVEST IN SOME OF THOSE THINGS. SO WE FEEL PRETTY GOOD ABOUT HOLDING OUR SPENDING LEVEL DOWN. NEXT YEAR'S BUDGET IS GOING TO BE TOUGH ONCE AGAIN.

Glover: IS THERE A STATE PROGRAM, A STATE AGENCY, A STATE EFFORT, A STATE ANYTHING THAT CAN BE ELIMINATED?

Siegrist: WELL, YEAH, AS YOU LOOK AT OUR BUDGETS -- I'M NOT SURE I'M GOING TO BE ABLE TO GIVE YOU SOME SPECIFIC EXAMPLES, BUT I WILL GET YOU SOME, BECAUSE WE HAVE LOOKED AT OUR BUDGETS, WE HAVE ROLLED SOME THINGS IN. WE HAVE GONE INTO THE BASE BUDGET FOR THIS YEAR, AND A LOT OF THE YELLING AND SCREAMING TAKING PLACE IS WE'VE CUT ABOUT $50 MILLION OUT OF THE BASE BUDGET. NOW, WE'RE PUTTING SOME ADDITIONAL FUNDING INTO THEM, BUT SEVERAL OF THE BUDGET AREAS WILL HAVE LESS MONEY NEXT YEAR THAN THEY HAD THIS YEAR.

Yepsen: BUT MR. SPEAKER, YOU'VE JUST SAID, WELL, WE'RE GOING TO HAVE A 2-PERCENT INCREASE IN SPENDING, OR MAYBE A LITTLE BIT MORE.

Siegrist: 2.3.

Yepsen: WELL, MIKE'S WRONG. IT'S NOT TRIPLE THE AMOUNT OF INFLATION; IT'S JUST DOUBLE THE RATE OF INFLATION.

Siegrist: INFLATION IS UP A LITTLE BIT.

Yepsen: GOVERNMENT HAS GROWN.

Siegrist: YES, IT HAS.

Yepsen: SINCE 1990 THE STATE BUDGET HAS GROWN 66 PERCENT. SINCE 1990 THE STATE'S POPULATION HAS GROWN 3.3 PERCENT. WHY CAN'T REPUBLICANS... -- YOU'VE HAD THE HOUSE FOR EIGHT YEARS, YOU'VE HAD THE SENATE FOR FOUR -- ...LIVE UP TO YOUR MANTRA AND CUT SOME SPENDING?

Siegrist: WELL, WE ARE. WE ARE CUTTING BASE-BUDGET SPENDING THIS YEAR. WE ARE DOING THAT. WE STARTED THE YEAR OUT WITH A DEAPPROPRIATION OF $30 MILLION DOLLARS, AND WE HAVE GONE INTO SOME OF THESE BASE BUDGETS AND CUT BACK ON SOME OF THOSE BASE-BUDGET ITEMS. THEN WE HAVE GONE IN AND PUT SOME MORE MONEY INTO CRITICAL AREAS. WHAT WE'RE TRYING TO DO IS REALLOCATE SPENDING INTO THE CRITICAL AREAS AS IT RELATES TO ECONOMIC COMPETITIVENESS, EDUCATION IN PARTICULAR. SO WE ARE HOLDING THE LINE MORE THIS YEAR THAN WE HAVE IN THE PAST. WE'RE GOING TO HAVE TO CONTINUE TO DO THAT FOR SEVERAL YEARS TO GET US BACK ON AN EVEN KEEL.

Yepsen: ANOTHER ISSUE UP THERE: WATER QUALITY. YOU CUT A DEAL WITH THE GOVERNOR ON THAT. ARE YOU GOING TO KEEP THE EPA HAPPY IN WHAT WE'RE GOING TO BE DOING TO CLEAN UP IOWA'S WATERWAYS NOW?

Siegrist: WE'VE REACHED AN AGREEMENT WITH THE GOVERNOR, AND WE THINK IT WILL BE TWO-PRONG. ONE, WE SENT THE GOVERNOR A POLICY BILL, WHICH HE IS GOING TO SIGN. THAT SAYS WE NEED TO BE DOING THIS TYPE OF INVESTIGATIVE WORK USING SOUND SCIENTIFIC PRINCIPLES SO THAT WE HAVE SOMETHING TO COMPARE IT WITH. THEN WE PUT THE ADDITIONAL, I THINK IT'S $11.3 MILLION OF INFRASTRUCTURE MONEY IN THAT'S GOING TO DRAW DOWN ANOTHER $60- OR $70 MILLION WORTH OF FUNDING. I THINK WE WILL MAKE GREAT STRIDES THIS YEAR TO SATISFY THE EPA REQUIREMENTS, TO MAKE SURE OUR WATERWAYS ARE BEING CLEANED UP, BUT IT WILL BE AN ONGOING PROCESS. I THINK THAT'S A KEY PART OF THIS LEGISLATIVE SESSION. IT'S A BIG STEP FORWARD.

Glover: ONE OF THE THINGS THAT YOU'VE BEEN VERY VOCAL ABOUT, PUSHED FOR IN YEARS PAST, AND ARE PUSHING FOR THIS YEAR IS OUTDOOR RECREATION PROGRAMS. WHAT ARE YOU GOING TO DO FOR OUTDOOR RECREATION THIS YEAR AND WHY ARE YOU DOING IT?

Siegrist: WHY ARE WE DOING IT IS AN EASIER ANSWER, AND THAT IS BECAUSE IT'S VERY, VERY IMPORTANT TO THE QUALITY OF LIFE. AS DAVID JUST MENTIONED, POPULATION GROWTH ISN'T WHAT IT SHOULD BE AND WE NEED TO BE DOING SOME OF THOSE QUALITY-OF-LIFE ISSUES IN ORDER TO MAKE THIS A BETTER PLACE TO LIVE. WITHIN THE INFRASTRUCTURE BUDGET, WHERE MOST OF THAT MONEY IS GOING TO BE SPENT, WE'RE CONTINUING TO RESTORE THE OUTDOOR PLAN, WHICH IS BRINGING OUR PARKS BACK UP TO SNUFF, IF YOU WILL, MONEY FOR LAKE DREDGING, MONEY FOR RECREATIONAL GRANTS, A VARIETY OF THINGS, BIKING TRAILS, HIKING TRAILS, THINGS OF THAT NATURE. WE NEED TO INVEST IN THAT BECAUSE AS YOU TRAVEL AROUND THE STATE, THAT'S WHAT PEOPLE CARE ABOUT. THEY CARE ABOUT IT, PARTICULARLY IN THE CITIES, IF YOU WILL, BECAUSE THAT HELPS THEM GET THE EMPLOYEES THAT THEY NEED. SO ALL ACROSS THE STATE IT'S AN EXTREMELY IMPORTANT ISSUE.

Glover: ISN'T IT TRUE THAT OF THOSE BASIC OUTDOOR RECREATION PROGRAMS YOU ARE GOING TO BE SPENDING ABOUT A MILLION DOLLARS LESS NEXT YEAR THAN THIS YEAR?

Siegrist: IF YOU COMPARE A COUPLE OF THEM, WE ARE. BUT WHEN YOU LOOK AT THE OVERALL SPENDING OF THINGS THAT COULD BE CONSIDERED INTO THE RECREATIONAL THING, IF IT'S HISTORIC PRESERVATION SITES, THAT IS SOMETHING THAT ISN'T NECESSARILY CONSIDERED AS RECREATION, THAT'S GETTING AN INCREASE. THOSE ALL TIE IN TOGETHER AS A QUALITY-OF-LIFE, TOURISM, RECREATION THING. SO WE THINK WE'VE MADE GREAT STRIDES. FOR ONCE I'LL PAT MYSELF ON THE BACK. I WAS HONORED TWO WEEKS AGO BY THE IOWA PARKS ASSOCIATION AS THEIR CELEBRITY OF THE YEAR BECAUSE OF THE WORK I'VE DONE IN THAT, AND I FEEL IT'S ONE OF THE BRIGHTEST THINGS THAT'S HAPPENED TO ME IN MY CAREER, BECAUSE I THINK THAT THOSE ARE CRITICAL ISSUES. REPUBLICANS AND DEMOCRATS AGREE THIS IS WHERE WE NEED TO GO.

Glover: ISN'T ONE OF THE DRIVING FORCES BEHIND THIS POLITICAL AND THAT YOU THINK THAT THE REPUBLICAN PARTY NEEDS A LITTLE ENVIRONMENTAL EDGE TO SOFTEN THE HARD EDGE OF THE PARTY?

Siegrist: SOMEBODY WOULD SAY THAT BUT, YOU KNOW, AT THE RISK OF SOUNDING SAPPY, THE DRIVING THING FOR ME WAS MY SON. I MEAN THAT SINCERELY AND THAT WAS THE SAME FOR SPEAKER CORBETT. WE HAVE YOUNG KIDS AND WE LOOK AROUND, THIS IS IMPORTANT. IF IT HELPS THE POLITICAL EDGE, THAT'S GREAT TOO. I'M NOT QUITE THAT CYNICAL YET.

Yepsen: MR. SPEAKER, THERE IS A WORLD OF HURT IN RURAL IOWA. CITIES ARE DOING OKAY, BUT YOU DON'T HAVE TO GO FAR TO FIND A LOT OF ECONOMIC TROUBLE. NOW FARMERS ARE LOOKING AT MAYBE A DROUGHT THIS YEAR. IS THERE ANYTHING THIS LEGISLATURE IS GOING TO DO SPECIFICALLY TO HELP RURAL IOWA?

Siegrist: WELL, THERE HAVE BEEN SEVERAL THINGS. FOR EXAMPLE, THIS PSEUDORABIES BILL THAT WE JUST PASSED IS AN IMPORTANT PIECE. IT DOESN'T NECESSARILY HELP ALL THE ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT PORTIONS. THERE ARE SOME TAX INCENTIVES WE'RE GOING TO LOOK AT IN PARTICULAR, DAVID, RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT CREDITS, HISTORIC PRESERVATION. THOSE SPECIFICALLY ARE VERY, VERY HELPFUL IN THE RURAL AREAS. SO SOME OF THOSE THINGS I THINK YOU'LL SEE US ENACT THIS SESSION. WHAT WE ARE TRYING TO DO, OF COURSE, IS TO POSITION IOWA AS THE BIOTECHNOLOGY CAPITOL OF THE WORLD, AS WELL AS THE FOOD CAPITOL. THE MONEY WE'RE GOING TO PUT INTO THE PLANT-SCIENCE INITIATIVE AT IOWA STATE UNIVERSITY WILL BE VERY CRITICAL. SOME PEOPLE WOULD SAY THE ETHANOL BILL, EVEN IF IT'S NOT VERY MUCH, COULD VERY WELL HELP RURAL IOWA AND CORN GROWERS IN PARTICULAR. SO YOU HAVE SEEN SOME THINGS, PARTICULARLY IN BIOTECH AREA, THE TRANSOVER LEGISLATION THAT WE'RE WORKING ON, TO START TO POSITION OURSELVES IN THOSE AREAS. WE CAN'T DO MUCH ABOUT COMMODITY PRICES, WE CAN'T DO MUCH ABOUT THE WEATHER, BUT WHAT WE CAN DO IS TO TRY TO POSITION OURSELVES FOR THE FUTURE. WE'RE TAKING SOME, I THINK, GOOD INITIAL STEPS.

Glover: ONE THING YOU CAN DO SOMETHING ABOUT AND YOU HAVE DONE SOMETHING ABOUT AND TALKED ABOUT A LOT IN THE PAST IS TAXES, CUTTING TAXES. REPUBLICANS LIKE TO BRAG ABOUT ALL THE TAXES THEY'VE CUT OVER THE YEARS. WHAT ARE YOU GOING TO CUT THIS YEAR, AND WILL PEOPLE NOTICE THIS YEAR?

Siegrist: THEY'LL NOTICE IN A TARGETED WAY. WE ARE GOING TO BE SENSITIVE TO THE BUDGET CONSTRAINTS THAT WE HAVE. I WILL TELL YOU THAT WE HAVEN'T SET A NUMBER YET, BUT IT'S GOING TO BE A MUCH LESS AMOUNT THAN THE YEARS PAST, PROBABLY AROUND $10 MILLION OF NEW TAX DEDUCTIONS ON TOP OF ABOUT 20- -- I THINK IT'S $26 MILLION, THAT WE HAVE TO FULFILL THAT WE'VE ALREADY PASSED, ANOTHER $26 MILLION DOLLARS WORTH OF PROPERTY TAX REDUCTIONS. WE FEEL STRONGLY ABOUT THE TAX FREEDOM DAY, WHICH WOULD TAKE THE SALES TAX OFF OF CLOTHES FOR A THREE-DAY WEEKEND.

Glover: IS THAT PART OF THE 10 MILLION?

Siegrist: YEAH, THAT WOULD BE. THE RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT TAX CREDIT IS SOMETHING WE FEEL STRONGLY ABOUT. THAT'S 2.5 MILLION, I BELIEVE. I'M GOING TO THROW OUT A LITTLE MORE THAN 10 MILLION IN SOME OF THE THINGS WE'RE LOOKING AT, HISTORIC PRESERVATION FOR INNER CITY FILL-IN, BUT ALSO FOR RURAL COMMUNITIES TO DO SOME THINGS ON THEIR MAIN STREETS. WE HAVE SOME SUBCHAPTER-S LANGUAGE CLEANUP. THAT WOULD BE ABOUT $900,000. A COUPLE OTHER ISSUES THAT ARE OUT THERE IS A COW-CALF TAX CREDIT, WHICH COULD HELP THE AG SECTOR; THAT'S A COUPLE OF MILLION. WHAT WE'RE GOING TO DO THIS UPCOMING WEEK IS SIT DOWN AND FIGURE HOW MUCH OF THAT WE CAN DO. THOSE ARE ALL VERY TARGETED AND ARE GOOD FOR IOWA. I MEAN IT'S NOT LIKE AN ACROSS-THE-BOARD CUT, BUT R AND D, RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT, CREDITS SHOULD HELP US ECONOMICALLY.

Glover: BUT DEAL WITH THE OTHER PART OF THE QUESTION. WHO WILL NOTICE THAT? A $10-MILLION TAX CUT HARDLY SEEMS WORTH THE EFFORT. I UNDERSTAND THAT $10 MILLION IS A LOT OF MONEY TO YOU AND ME.

Siegrist: WELL, THE SALES TAX FREEDOM HOLIDAY -- A LOT OF PEOPLE HAVE NOTICED THAT, NOT IN A HUGELY SIGNIFICANT WAY, BUT IT WOULD STILL BE SOME MONEY IN THEIR POCKET. THE R AND D, RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT TAX CREDIT, NO. IF I GO DOOR TO DOOR KNOCKING DOWN MY STREET, THEY'RE NOT GOING TO KNOW WE DID THAT, BUT IT IS GOING TO ENHANCE THE ECONOMIC VIABILITY OF, LET'S SAY, A JOHN DEERE OR A MAYTAG OR LENNOX. IT COULD HAVE -- IT WILL HAVE IMPACT THERE LONGER TERM FOR ALL IOWA.

Yepsen: IN YOUR NEGOTIATIONS WITH THE GOVERNOR, DO YOU HAVE ANY COMMITMENT FROM HIM TO SIGN ANY OF THIS STUFF INTO LAW?

Siegrist: IN OUR DISCUSSIONS WITH THE GOVERNOR, THE GOVERNOR HAS SAID, I THINK THE ENTIRE TIME, HE IS INTERESTED, WITHIN THE CONFINES OF WHAT WE CAN DO, SOME SPECIFIC, TARGETED TAX CUTS. I CAN TELL YOU I THINK THE RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT, HISTORIC PRESERVATION WOULD FIT HIS CRITERIA. NOW, HE WOULD TELL YOU, IF HE WAS SITTING HERE, I NEED TO SEE EVERYTHING ELSE, AND THAT'S WHAT WE'RE WORKING TOWARDS THESE TWO WEEKS.

Yepsen: ONE OF THE THINGS YOU HEAR HIM SAY IS THAT THE LEGISLATURE, OVER THE LAST FEW YEARS, HAS CUT ABOUT $800-MILLION WORTH OF TAXES IN IOWA AND THAT MAYBE WE'VE CUT TOO MUCH, THAT WE CAN'T MEET ALL THE NEEDS THAT HE CAN FIND IN THIS STATE. WHAT DO YOU SAY TO THAT? ARE YOU WORRIED ABOUT DEFICITS HERE?

Siegrist: NO, I'M NOT. WHAT I WOULD SAY TO HIM, PROBABLY, IS "GEE, GOVERNOR, I THINK YOU SIGNED SOME OF THEM, YOU VOTED FOR A LOT OF THEM AND THAT I DON'T THINK YOU CAN SAY THE FACT THAT WE TOOK SOME MONEY OFF THE TABLE AND GAVE IT BACK TO OUR CITIZENS IS WHY WE CAN'T FUND ALL OF THE NEEDS." THAT'S WHAT HE SAYS BUT I DISAGREE WITH HIM ON THAT. I THINK IT HAS HELPED THE VIABILITY OF OUR STATE, THE ECONOMIC VIABILITY, AND I THINK WE'RE GOING TO MEET THE PRIORITIES OF IOWANS THIS YEAR WITH OUR FUNDING THAT WE HAVE. WE'VE HAD A DIFFICULT YEAR, AND WE'RE GOING TO HAVE A DIFFICULT YEAR NEXT YEAR. FOR A COUPLE OF YEARS WE'VE SPENT MORE THAN WE SHOULD HAVE. I'LL TAKE SOME BLAME FOR THAT. THIS YEAR WE'RE TIGHTENING DOWN THE BELT AND WE'VE GOT A WAYS TO GO, BUT WE CAN DO IT.

Yepsen: AS A MATTER OF FACT, THE NONPARTISAN FISCAL BUREAU CAN SHOW YOU PROJECTIONS THAT SAY YOU'RE IN A DEFICIT IN A COUPLE YEARS. DO YOU FORESEE A NEED TO BE RAISING TAXES IN IOWA?

Siegrist: THAT IS NOT -- I INTEND TO BE SPEAKER FOR TWO MORE YEARS, AT LEAST, AFTER THIS. WE ARE NOT GOING TO RAISE TAXES DURING THAT TIME, AND WE WILL HAVE A BALANCED BUDGET WITH A 99-PERCENT SPENDING LIMITATION LAW INTACT, BUT WE ARE GOING TO HAVE TO TIGHTEN OUR BELT. WE WILL NOT RAISE TAXES AND WE WON'T NEED TO RAISE TAXES.

Glover: MR. SPEAKER, YOU'RE GOING TO HAVE TO COME FACE TO FACE WITH THIS ISSUE, EVEN THOUGH I KNOW YOU HATE TO. YOU ARE A MODERATE. YOU HAVE BEEN FOR A LONG TIME. I KNOW YOU DON'T LIKE TO OWN UP TO THAT. WHAT IS THIS LEGISLATURE GOING TO DO TO SATISFY THE RIGHT-WING BASE OF THE REPUBLICAN PARTY? WHAT SOCIAL ISSUES CAN YOU TAKE BACK TO THE CHRISTIAN COALITION, TO SOCIALLY RELIGIOUS AND CONSERVATIVES AND SAY, HERE'S WHY YOU OUGHT TO BE OUT WORKING THE STREETS FOR REPUBLICANS?

Siegrist: WELL, FIRST OFF, WE DON'T REALLY VIEW IT THAT WAY. WE THINK THAT --

Glover: THEY DO.

Siegrist: I UNDERSTAND THAT. WE THINK THAT THE BASE OF THE REPUBLICAN PARTY HAS SEVERAL CONCERNS ASIDE FROM MEETING THE PRIORITIES OF IOWANS. ONE OF THEM IS TO KEEP GOVERNMENT IN CHECK AND SPENDING IN CHECK. SECOND ONE IS THAT THEY LIKE TO SEE TAXES REDUCED. SPECIFICALLY TO THAT, A COUPLE OF THINGS: THE INFORM CONSENT LAW, WHICH THE GOVERNOR HAS, AS IT RELATES TO ABORTION, IS SOMETHING THAT HAD 68 VOTES IN THE IOWA HOUSE, STRONG BIPARTISAN SUPPORT. THAT'S OBVIOUSLY AN IMPORTANT ISSUE TO THE RIGHT WING OR THE SOCIAL CONSERVATIVES OF OUR PARTY. THAT'S ONE KEY THING WE WOULD PRESENT TO THEM. BUT WHAT WE'LL PRESENT TO THEM MOSTLY IS THE FACT THAT, LOOK, WE'VE BEEN TRYING TO DO GOVERNMENT THE WAY IT NEEDS TO BE DONE, TRY TO LIMIT THE GROWTH OF GOVERNMENT. I THINK THAT'S VERY ATTRACTIVE TO THEM, BUT I WOULD POINT TO THE ONE BILL IN PARTICULAR THAT'S SOMETHING THEY HAVE A DEEP CONCERN ABOUT.

Yepsen: THE POLITICAL ENVIRONMENT. THE DEMOCRATS ARE GOING TO BE COMING AT REPUBLICAN LEGISLATIVE CANDIDATES SAYING YOU'RE TIRED, YOU'VE HAD YOUR TURN, YOU'RE OUT OF GAS, YOU'VE BEEN THERE TOO LONG. HOW WILL REPUBLICANS RESPOND TO THAT CRITICISM OUT ON THE CAMPAIGN TRAIL THIS FALL?

Siegrist: WELL, FIRST OFF, AS YOU ALL KNOW, THE MAIN THING IN AN ELECTION AT OUR LEVEL, WHERE YOU'RE TALKING IN THE HOUSE ABOUT 27,000 CITIZENS AND MAYBE 12,000 VOTERS AT TOPS, IS THE PERSON AND THE MESSAGE. SO FIRST OFF, CANDIDATE RECRUITMENT IS EXTREMELY VITAL. WE HAVE 49 INCUMBENTS RUNNING FOR REELECTION. INCUMBENTS ARE DIFFICULT TO DEFEAT, SO WE THINK WE'RE IN A VERY GOOD POSITION TO MAINTAIN CONTROL OF THE HOUSE. BUT THE MESSAGE IS ONE OF A BALANCED BUDGET, CONTINUED ACCOUNTABILITY IN EDUCATION, AND SOME OF THE OTHER ISSUES WE HAVE TALKED ABOUT. WE'LL BE ABLE TO TALK ABOUT THE FIRST QUESTION OF THE SHOW: WHAT ARE WE GOING TO TALK ABOUT -- THE FACT WE'RE GOING TO KEEP OUR SENIORS IN THEIR HOMES LONGER, THE FACT THAT WE'RE CLEANING UP WATER, THE FACT THAT WE'RE DOING SIGNIFICANT WORK ON TOBACCO CONTROL AND HEALTH CARE. WE FEEL STRONGLY WHAT WE'VE DONE ON EDUCATION IS THE RIGHT DIRECTION, AND WE'RE MAKING PROGRESS IN GETTING KIDS TO READ. SO I THINK WE'LL HAVE A STRONG MESSAGE TO TAKE TO THE VOTERS.

Yepsen: TOM VILSACK WILL BE WORKING HARD TO ELECT DEMOCRATS. ONE OF THE ARGUMENTS HE'S GOING TO USE IS GIVE ME A LEGISLATURE I CAN WORK WITH. WE'RE TIRED OF THIS FIGHTING UP THERE. WHY SHOULDN'T GOVERNOR VILSACK BE GIVEN DEMOCRATIC LEGISLATORS, PEOPLE OF HIS OWN PARTY TO WORK WITH TO SOLVE IOWA'S PROBLEMS?

Siegrist: SO WE DON'T HAVE TO RAISE TAXES.

Yepsen: REPUBLICANS HAVE HAD A LOT OF OPPORTUNITIES IN THE LAST 30 YEARS. YOU'VE HAD THE LEGISLATURE AND THE GOVERNORSHIP. YOU HAVE TO GO BACK TO 1965 TO FIND A TIME WHEN DEMOCRATS REALLY WERE GIVEN A CHANCE TO SOLVE IOWA'S PROBLEMS. HOW ARE YOU GOING TO COUNTER THAT?

Siegrist: WE'RE GOING TO COUNTER IT BECAUSE, AGAIN, GOING BACK TO THE THINGS THAT ARE ALREADY SAID, THE ACCOMPLISHMENTS WE'VE HAD, I THINK WE'VE PROVEN TO THE PEOPLE OF IOWA THAT WHILE THERE MAY BE A LOT OF FUSS AND FLUSTER, WHEN IT COMES DOWN TO THE END, WE CAN WORK WITH THIS GOVERNOR AND WE WILL WORK WITH HIM. GOVERNOR VILSACK LOOKS GOOD AND PART OF THE REASON HE LOOKS GOOD IS BECAUSE WE'RE KEEPING HIM UNDER CONTROL, AND OBVIOUSLY HE PUSHES US IN SOME DIRECTIONS THAT MAKES US DO SOME THINGS THAT TOGETHER, I THINK, WE CAN LOOK AT IOWA AND SAY WE'VE ACCOMPLISHED SOME THINGS. WOULD I RATHER HAVE A REPUBLICAN GOVERNOR DOWNSTAIRS? SURE, I WOULD. BUT WE'VE PROVEN WE CAN WORK WITH THIS GOVERNOR, AND WE'LL CONTINUE TO WORK IN A WAY THAT KEEPS THE BUDGET BALANCED AND ADDRESSES THE PRIORITIES OF IOWA.

Glover: SPEAKING OF FUSS AND FLUSTER, THIS IS A PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION YEAR. ISN'T THIS LEGISLATIVE ELECTION REALLY IN THE HANDS OF AL GORE AND GEORGE BUSH? WON'T THE LARGER POLITICAL ENVIRONMENT DRIVE TURNOUT, DRIVE REPUBLICAN TURNOUT, DRIVE DEMOCRATIC TURNOUT, AND SET THE AGENDA FOR THIS ELECTION?

Siegrist: CERTAINLY THE PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION HAS AN IMPACT ON OUR LEGISLATIVE RACES, PARTICULARLY IN THE AREA OF TURNOUT. ABSOLUTELY. I THINK THIS IS A COMPETITIVE STATE. I THINK GEORGE BUSH CAN WIN THIS STATE, AND IT COULD VERY WELL BE ONE OF THE THINGS THAT PUSHES SOME OF OUR RACES INTO VICTORIES.

Yepsen: WHAT ABOUT YOUR OWN POLITICAL FUTURE? YOU RUN FOR GOVERNOR IN TWO YEARS? CONGRESS?

Siegrist: BELIEVE IT OR NOT, I WANT TO GET REELECTED AND BE SPEAKER AGAIN. IN 2002, REALLY, I THINK I HAVE TWO THINGS I'LL LOOK AT: AN OPTION AT HIGHER OFFICE OR, YOU KNOW, REMOVING SOME OF THE BURDEN FROM MY WIFE AND TWO CHILDREN. I HAVEN'T DECIDED WHICH ONE I'M GOING TO DO, BUT HIGHER OFFICE HAS AN APPEAL TO ME.

Borg: IT SEEMS LIKE WE ALWAYS ASK THOSE QUESTIONS WHEN WE'RE RUNNING OUT OF TIME. THANK YOU FOR BEING WITH US TODAY.

ON OUR NEXT EDITION IOWA PRESS, WE'LL CONTINUE WITH OUR FOCUS ON STATEHOUSE MATTERS, IN PARTICULAR THE PROGRESS OF THE CURRENT LEGISLATIVE SESSION, AS WE DID TODAY. WE'LL BE TRACKING THE POLICY AND POLITICS THROUGH ADJOURNMENT, AND I HOPE THAT YOU'LL WATCH NEXT SUNDAY AT NOON AND 7:00.

AND WE CLOSE WITH THIS PROGRAM REMINDER: FOLLOWING THIS EVENING'S 7:00 AIRING OF IOWA PRESS, WE INVITE YOU TO WATCH LIVING IN IOWA WITH MORGAN HALGREN. TONIGHT ONE OF MORGAN'S FEATURES WILL FOCUS ON THE LIFE AND TIMES OF STATE LEGISLATOR MINNETTE DODERER OF IOWA CITY, WHO IS RETIRING FROM PUBLIC SERVICE AT THE COMPLETION OF THE CURRENT LEGISLATIVE SESSION AFTER 34 YEARS AS A STATE SENATOR AND STATE REPRESENTATIVE. SHE'S APPEARED HERE ON IOWA PRESS MANY TIMES. THAT'S LIVING IN IOWA WITH MORGAN HALGREN AT 7:30 THIS EVENING ON STATEWIDE IOWA PUBLIC TELEVISION. 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.