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Iowa Press #2939
May 24 and 26, 2002

THE IOWA GENERAL ASSEMBLY CONVENES A SPECIAL SESSION ON TUESDAY, MAY 28, AS STATE GOVERNMENT MAKES STILL ANOTHER ATTEMPT TO PLUG BUDGET DEFICITS. PERSPECTIVE AND PREDICTIONS FROM IOWA HOUSE REPUBLICAN MAJORITY LEADER CHRISTOPHER RANTS AND FROM DEMOCRATIC MINORITY LEADER RICHARD MYERS ON THIS EDITION OF "IOWA PRESS."

ANNOUNCER: FUNDING FOR "IOWA PRESS" HAS BEEN PROVIDED BY "FRIENDS" OF IOWA PUBLIC TELEVISION; BY THE IOWA BANKERS ASSOCIATION... FOR PERSONAL, BUSINESS, AND COMMERCIAL NEEDS, IOWA BANKS HELP IOWANS REACH THEIR FINANCIAL GOALS; BY THE ASSOCIATED GENERAL CONTRACTORS OF IOWA... THE PUBLIC'S PARTNER IN BUILDING IOWA'S HIGHWAY, BRIDGE, AND MUNICIPAL UTILITY INFRASTRUCTURE; AND BY IOWA NETWORK SERVICES AND YOUR LOCAL INDEPENDENT TELEPHONE COMPANY...IOWA NETWORK SERVICES, YOUR CLOSEST CONNECTION.

ON STATEWIDE IOWA PUBLIC TELEVISION, THIS IS THE FRIDAY, MAY 24 EDITION OF "IOWA PRESS." HERE IS DEAN BORG.

Borg: AT THE IOWA STATEHOUSE, THE BUDGET DILEMMA CONTINUES. ACTUALLY, IT'S "DILEMMAS." THE BUDGETS FOR THE CURRENT FISCAL YEAR AND NEXT ARE SHORT OF MONEY. THE 79TH IOWA GENERAL ASSEMBLY ADJOURNED ITS REGULAR SESSION JUST A LITTLE OVER A MONTH AGO, AND NEXT TUESDAY WILL BE THE SECOND SPECIAL SESSION SINCE THAT APRIL 12 ADJOURNMENT. THE BUDGET FOR FISCAL 2002 -- THAT'S THE CURRENT FISCAL YEAR ENDING JUNE 30 -- SHOWS A $219-MILLION DEFICIT. AND THE STATE'S 2003 BUDGET, EFFECTIVE ON JULY 1, WOULD SPEND $216 MILLION MORE THAN REVENUE ESTIMATORS NOW EXPECT THE STATE TO RECEIVE. WELL, JUST ADDING THOSE TWO DEFICITS TOGETHER SHOWS THE STATE IS SHORT NEARLY A HALF BILLION DOLLARS OF WHAT HAD BEEN EXPECTED FOR SPENDING. SO ON TUESDAY OF THIS COMING WEEK, IT'S CRUNCH TIME AGAIN. AND THERE'S NOTHING LIKE MONEY PROBLEMS TO UNDERSCORE POLITICAL DIFFERENCES, AND WE EXPECT TO SEE THAT AS WE QUESTION THE LEADER OF THE MAJORITY REPUBLICANS IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, CHRISTOPHER RANTS OF SIOUX CITY, AND REPRESENTATIVE MYERS OF IOWA CITY, WHO LEADS THE MINORITY DEMOCRATS. GENTLEMEN, WELCOME BACK TO "IOWA PRESS."

Myers: GOOD MORNING.

Rants: GOOD MORNING.

Borg: THIS IS GETTING TO BE A HABIT.

Myers: YES, IT IS.

Borg: AND ACROSS THE "IOWA PRESS" TABLE: "DES MOINES REGISTER" POLITICAL COLUMNIST DAVID YEPSEN, AND "ASSOCIATED PRESS" POLITICAL REPORTER MIKE GLOVER.

Glover: MR. RANTS, THERE'S BEEN A LOT OF DISCUSSION AT THE STATEHOUSE ABOUT THE BUDGET BETWEEN YOURSELF AND GOVERNOR VILSACK. ARE THOSE DISCUSSIONS OVER? IS THERE ANY MORE ROOM FOR COMPROMISE OR MOVEMENT, OR IS IT PRETTY MUCH SET WHAT YOU'RE GOING TO DO?

Rants: WELL, I HAD THOUGHT THAT THEY WERE OVER, BUT WE CONTINUALLY GET CALLS FROM STAFF ABOUT A POTENTIAL PROBLEM WITH THE '02 SOLUTION THAT WE HAD AGREED TO WITH THE GOVERNOR. MAYBE A FUND THAT THE GOVERNOR SAID WAS AVAILABLE TO USE TO PLUG THAT HOLE SUDDENLY IS NO LONGER AVAILABLE TO PLUG THAT HOLE. SO THERE ARE GOING TO BE SOME TWEAKS AND SOME CHANGES BUT, BY AND LARGE, THERE IS AGREEMENT ON THE '02 BUDGET. AND UNFORTUNATELY, THERE'S ISN'T GOING TO BE AN AGREEMENT, I THINK, ON THE '03 BUDGET. ALTHOUGH NOW THE GOVERNOR IS INDICATING PUBLICLY THAT HE WILL SIGN THE BILL REPUBLICANS PASS. I THINK THAT'S A GOOD STEP FORWARD, AND HOPEFULLY WE'LL BE ABLE TO COMPLETE OUR WORK ON TUESDAY AND GET THIS BUDGET BEHIND US.

Glover: BUT THERE ARE NO MORE TALKS SCHEDULED?

Rants: NO, THERE ARE NO MORE TALKS.

Glover: MR. MYERS, IS THERE ROOM FOR COMPROMISE HERE, OR ARE THINGS CAST IN STONE?

Myers: WELL, AS FAR AS THE '02 BUDGET IS CONCERNED, I BELIEVE WE WILL REACH AN AGREEMENT AS FAR AS OUR CAUCUS IS CONCERNED AND SUPPORT THE CHANGE THAT WANTS TO BE MADE, THE GOVERNOR IS SUPPORTING, AND THAT MR. RANTS HAS ALLUDED TO. BUT AS FAR AS '03 IS CONCERNED, WE WILL OFFER AN AMENDMENT, A COMPROMISE THAT WE THINK IS REASONABLE. AT A TIME WHEN PRESCRIPTION DRUGS ARE AT ALL ALL-TIME HIGH AND WE'RE ASKING SENIOR CITIZENS TO DOUBLE THEIR COPAYMENTS, WE WANT TO DO SOMETHING ABOUT THAT. WE'RE WORRIED AND CONCERNED ABOUT TAKING STATE TROOPERS OFF THE ROAD. WE'RE GOING TO TALK ABOUT THAT. WE THINK PUBLIC SAFETY IS PARAMOUNT IN LIGHT OF WHAT THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES AND THE VICE PRESIDENT HAVE BEEN SAYING WITHIN THE LAST COUPLE OF WEEKS. AND ALSO, WE THINK IT'S TIME TO STOP THE CUTS IN THE EDUCATION BUDGETS, REGARDLESS. I KNOW THAT EDUCATION IS A PRIORITY FOR DEMOCRATS. WE'VE MADE IT THAT WAY. AND WE KNOW THAT GOVERNOR VILSACK HAS ADVOCATED REDUCING CLASS SIZES. TEST SCORES ARE GOING UP. WE DON'T WANT TO REVERSE THAT PROGRESS.

Yepsen: MR. RANTS, TALK ABOUT THE '03 BUDGET FOR A MINUTE, SINCE THAT SEEMS TO BE THE FLASH POINT. WHAT IS IT YOU'RE GOING TO PASS?

Rants: WE'RE GOING TO PASS A BUDGET THAT IS GOING TO -- A) WE HAVE TO RESTORE MOST OF THE BUDGET. WE HAVE TO BUILD THE BUDGET FROM SCRATCH BECAUSE TWO WEEKS AGO GOVERNOR VILSACK VETOED ALMOST ALL OF THE BUDGET, SO WE'RE GOING TO HAVE A 200-PAGE DOCUMENT AND PUT THE BUDGET BACK INTO PLACE. THE BUDGET THAT WE'RE GOING TO PUT INTO PLACE IS GOING TO MAKE A LOT OF REDUCTIONS. WE HAVE COME FORWARD THIS LAST WEEK WITH SOME TARGETED REDUCTIONS, SOME SPECIFIC PROGRAMS THAT WE'RE NOT GOING TO FUND ANYMORE, SOME PROGRAMS THAT WE WANT TO ELIMINATE. ON TOP OF THAT, WE'LL MAKE SOME TARGETED -- EXCUSE ME, ACROSS-THE-BOARD REDUCTIONS OF ABOUT 2.5 PERCENT TO OTHER AREAS OF THE BUDGET. THERE ARE SOME AREAS WE'RE GOING TO EXEMPT. WE'RE NOT GOING TO CUT, YOU KNOW, OUR K-12 GENERAL FUND SPENDING; COMMUNITY COLLEGES; REGENTS; OUR HEALTH CARE PROGRAMS LIKE HAWKEYE, MEDICAID, THINGS OF THAT NATURE. WE'RE ALSO LOOKING FOR SOME COST SAVINGS TOO, HOWEVER. PART OF OUR PROBLEM THAT WE'VE BEEN FACED WITH THE LAST TWO YEARS HAS BEEN THE GROWTH IN MEDICAID COSTS, SOMETHING THAT WE HAVEN'T BEEN ABLE TO GET ANY CONTROL OVER. AND WHAT WE WOULD LIKE TO DO IS PUT INTO PLACE SOME CHANGES TO HOW THE STATE NEGOTIATES WITH LARGE PHARMACEUTICAL COMPANIES, TO TRY AND USE OUR BARGAINING POWER, OUR BUYING POWER, AND TO GET A BETTER DEAL FOR THE STATE. WE THINK WE CAN SAVE SOME MONEY ON PRESCRIPTION DRUGS AND MEDICAID, NOT BY HITTING SENIORS, DICK, BUT BY TALKING TO THE LARGE PHARMACEUTICAL COMPANIES AND ASKING THEM TO GIVE US A BETTER REBATE.

Myers: BUT REGARDLESS, THE BOTTOM LINE IS STILL YOU'RE RAISING THAT COPAY. YOU'RE DOUBLING IT.

Rants: FOR PEOPLE WHO PURCHASE BRAND-NAME DRUGS INSTEAD OF GENERIC DRUGS. YOU KNOW, MY FAMILY -- WHEN WE GO TO THE PHARMACY TO PURCHASE OUR DRUGS, WE PICK THE GENERIC. WHY IS IT THAT AS THE STATE, WE DON'T ASK PEOPLE TO PURCHASE GENERIC DRUGS BECAUSE THEY'RE CHEAPER THAN PURCHASING THE BRAND-NAME DRUGS?

Myers: THE BOTTOM LINE IS YOU'RE DOUBLING THEIR COPAYMENT --

Rants: BY A DOLLAR.

Myers: -- AND THAT IS GOING TO HAVE AN EFFECT --

Rants: BY A DOLLAR.

Myers: THAT ISN'T JUST A DOLLAR TO A SENIOR CITIZEN. IN MANY CASES THOSE FOLKS ARE TAKING 20, 30 DRUGS A MONTH, AND THAT'S MONEY THAT THEY NEED. THAT MEANS THEY'RE GOING TO HAVE TO CHOOSE BETWEEN FOOD AND DRUGS.

Yepsen: MR. MYERS, ASIDE FROM THAT DIFFERENCE OF OPINION, WHAT OTHER ISSUES DO DEMOCRATS HAVE WITH THE PROGRAM THAT MR. RANTS JUST OUTLINED?

Myers: WELL, THE PUBLIC SAFETY ISSUE IS A BIG ONE FOR US. I MEAN, THAT BUDGET THAT HE IS PROPOSING REDUCES $1.9 MILLION -- $1.8 MILLION TO THE STATE TROOPERS' BUDGET ALONE. AND ALSO IT REDUCES MONEY TO THE DEPARTMENT OF CRIMINAL INVESTIGATION. YOU KNOW, WE HAVE A MURDER GOING ON IN DUBUQUE, IOWA, HERE A FEW WEEKS AGO, IN WHICH WE'RE TOLD THAT THE ANALYSIS OF THE CRIME SCENE CANNOT BE DONE FOR A YEAR. AND THEY HAVE A SUSPECT. THEY CAN'T DEAL WITH THAT SUSPECT UNTIL THEY GET THAT ANALYSIS. ARE WE GOING TO WAIT A YEAR TO TAKE A MURDERER OFF THE STREET? I DON'T THINK THAT MAKES A LOT OF SENSE TO ME. PEOPLE ARE CONCERNED ABOUT THEIR PUBLIC SAFETY.

Yepsen: MR. RANTS, I THOUGHT YOU GUYS WERE THE LAW AND ORDER PARTY.

Rants: I WISH WE DIDN'T HAVE TO MAKE BUDGET REDUCTIONS, DAVID. BUT THE FACT OF THE MATTER IS THAT WE'RE OVER $200 MILLION SHORT. WE'VE EMPTIED THE RAINY DAY FUND, WE'VE DIPPED INTO OUR CASH RESERVES, AND WE'VE MADE SOME TRANSFERS. ALL THAT'S LEFT IS TO MAKE REDUCTIONS. PUBLIC SAFETY IS A PRIORITY. OVER THE LAST TWO TIMES THAT WE'VE HAD TO GO BACK AND ADJUST BUDGETS, BOTH WHEN THE GOVERNOR DID HIS ACROSS-THE-BOARD CUT LAST NOVEMBER AND LAST FEBRUARY WHEN WE HAD TO MAKE SOME DEAPPROPRIATIONS, WE PROTECTED PUBLIC SAFETY. AFTER EDUCATION, PUBLIC SAFETY IS THE ONLY ENTITY THAT REALLY HASN'T BEEN TOUCHED. SO ARE WE GOING TO MAKE A REDUCTION AND PUT THEM BACK TO THE LEVEL THEY WERE TWO YEARS AGO? UNFORTUNATELY, WE ARE.

Borg: LET ME ASK YOU TO RESPOND THIS WAY. YES, WE'RE HEARING FROM SPECIAL INTERESTS WHO ARE DIRECTLY AFFECTED. BUT ACROSS THE GENERAL POPULATION, DO YOU AS THE REPUBLICAN MAJORITY LEADER REALLY THINK THAT IOWANS ARE GOING TO NOTICE?

Rants: BECAUSE OF WHERE WE'VE TARGETED THE CUTS, I THINK THE AVERAGE IOWAN ISN'T GOING TO. I WILL TELL YOU, DEAN, MY PHONE HAS RUNG OFF THE HOOK FOR THE LAST WEEK WITH (A) A LOT OF STATE EMPLOYEES, CALLS PROMPTED BY STATE EMPLOYEES. THE DIFFERENT DEPARTMENTS HAVE DONE A VERY GOOD JOB USING THE TAXPAYER FUNDS AND TELEPHONES AND E-MAIL SYSTEMS TO SPREAD A LOT OF CONCERN AND SCARE A LOT OF IOWANS INTO CALLING LEGISLATORS. AND I DON'T THINK THAT'S RIGHT FOR THE STATE WORKERS TO BE DOING THAT. BUT YOU KNOW, I WENT THROUGH A PARADE THE OTHER NIGHT BEFORE I CAME DOWN HERE TO DES MOINES TO TAPE THIS SHOW. AND AS I WALKED THROUGH THAT PARADE AND I SAW THOUSANDS OF MY CONSTITUENTS, I DIDN'T HAVE PEOPLE YELLING BAD THINGS AT ME. THEY'VE BEEN SAYING, "HANG IN THERE. YOU KNOW, YOU'RE DOING WHAT YOU NEED TO BE DOING. STICK TO YOUR GUNS. WE'VE GOT TO GET THIS STATE BUDGET UNDER CONTROL." BY EXEMPTING OUR K-12 SYSTEM FROM ACROSS-THE-BOARD CUTS, BY PROTECTING OUR COMMUNITY COLLEGES AND OUR REGENTS, I THINK THAT MOST IOWANS, THE AVERAGE IOWAN ISN'T GOING TO FEEL THE PINCH.

Borg: MR. MYERS, HOW DO YOU RESPOND TO THAT?

Myers: I THINK PEOPLE ARE GOING TO SEE IT. I MEAN, TELL THAT TO THE 50 TEACHERS THAT JUST GOT A PINK SLIP IN DAVENPORT.

Borg: SPECIAL INTEREST GROUP. I'M TALKING ABOUT THE GENERAL POPULATION.

Myers: WELL, I THINK, YOU KNOW, THERE'S A LOT OF TEACHERS IN THIS STATE, THERE'S A LOT OF KIDS IN THIS STATE. I THINK THAT'S THE GENERAL POPULATION, WITHOUT A DOUBT. I CERTAINLY THINK THAT'S A PRIORITY FOR US. TRY TELLING THAT TO PEOPLE WHO CAN'T GET CASES PROCESSED IN THE COURT SYSTEM. YOU KNOW, WE HAVE RESPONSIBILITIES. WE HAVE PRIORITIES AND IT'S UP TO US TO SEE TO IT THAT THOSE PRIORITIES ARE MET. AND I'LL TELL YOU SOMETHING ELSE. YOU'RE GOING TO SEE THIS EFFECT IN THE EDUCATIONAL SYSTEM IN THIS STATE OF WHAT WE'RE DOING. WE'VE BEEN DUMBING DOWN EDUCATION IN THIS STATE FOR SOME TIME. YOU'RE GOING TO SEE IT TAKING LONGER TO GO THROUGH A FOUR-YEAR INSTITUTION. WE STOPPED THAT, YOU KNOW. WE'RE STARTED TO REVERSE THAT PROCESS. YOU'RE GOING TO SEE IT TAKE LONGER. YOU'RE GOING TO SEE LESS CLASSES ORIENTED. YOU'RE GOING TO SEE TUITIONS INCREASE. AND WE'VE ALREADY GOT THE HIGHEST TUITION IN THE COUNTRY FOR COMMUNITY COLLEGES. I THINK IT'S TIME FOR A STATE THAT HAS EDUCATION AS A PRIORITY TO STOP THAT.

Borg: MR. RANTS, YOU --

Rants: I DON'T KNOW HOW DICK CAN SAY WE DUMBING DOWN THE GOVERNOR, AND REPUBLICANS HAVE BOTH BEEN TOUTING THE FACT THAT TEST SCORES ARE ACTUALLY MOVING UP FOR THE FIRST TIME IN YEARS. WE'VE ACTUALLY MADE SOME IMPROVEMENT IN THE LEVEL OF PAY FOR TEACHERS. I DON'T KNOW HOW YOU CAN SAY WE'VE BEEN DUMBING DOWN EDUCATION.

Myers: BECAUSE WE'VE DONE THAT AND NOW WE WANT TO REVERSE IT.

Rants: THIS ISN'T GOING REVERSE IT. WE'VE PROTECTED BOTH K-12 EDUCATION AND THE TEACHER COMPENSATION PLAN, DICK.

Yepsen: MR. MYERS, VERY QUICKLY, HOW DO YOU RESPOND TO MR. RANTS' CHARGE THAT STATE DEPARTMENT HEADS AND EMPLOYEES ARE USING TAXPAYER FUNDED COMPUTERS, TELEPHONE SERVICES, TO GIN UP OPPOSITION TO THESE BUDGET CUTS?

Myers: WELL --

Yepsen: IS THERE AN ABUSE OF TAX DOLLARS GOING ON?

Myers: I DO NOT BELIEVE THAT THAT'S HAPPENING. I HAVEN'T SEEN ANY EVIDENCE OF IT, BUT LET'S SAY THAT IT IS. LET'S SAY THAT PEOPLE ARE MAKING A PHONE CALL TO THEIR REPRESENTATIVE OR TO THE PERSON WHO HAS CONTROL OVER THEIR DEPARTMENT, TO EXPRESS THEIR OPINION OF WHAT'S GOING TO HAPPEN IN THAT DEPARTMENT. IT SEEMS TO ME WE HAVE FREE SPEECH IN THIS COUNTRY, AND WE OUGHT TO HAVE A RIGHT TO DO THAT.

Rants: THAT'S NOT WHAT I'M TALKING ABOUT.

Myers: I KNOW YOU'RE TALKING ABOUT USING STATE FACILITIES.

Rants: I'M TALKING ABOUT PEOPLE AT THE DEPARTMENT OF CULTURAL AFFAIRS, PEOPLE IN THE DEPARTMENT OF HUMAN SERVICES, ALL BRANCHES OF STATE GOVERNMENT CONTACTING IOWANS FIRST AND ASKING IOWANS AND DIFFERENT PEOPLE, MAYBE THEY GIVE A GRANT TO OR SOMETHING LIKE THAT, TO CALL THE LEGISLATURE --

Myers: I HAVEN'T SEEN ANY EVIDENCE OF THAT.

Rants: -- ON STATE TIME. IF THEY DO IT ON THEIR OWN TIME, THAT'S FINE.

Myers: I'VE HEARD THIS. I'VE HEARD PEOPLE CALLING UP THE DEPARTMENT OF CULTURAL AFFAIRS, FOR EXAMPLE, AND SAYING, "IS THIS PROGRAM GOING TO GO?" "NO." THEN THEY TURN AROUND AND CALL THEIR STATE LEGISLATOR AND SAY "WHY ISN'T IT." THAT'S WHAT I SEE HAPPENING. I DON'T SEE STATE EMPLOYEES, AS YOU SAY, GINNING UP OR ORGANIZING A CAMPAIGN TO PHONE IN SOME SORT OF CRITICISM OF THIS STATE BUDGET. I SEE PEOPLE BEING AFFECTED BY THIS THAT ARE DOING IT THEMSELVES.

Glover: MR. MYERS, LET'S GET BACK TO WHAT'S GOING TO HAPPEN ON TUESDAY. DEMOCRATS ARE GOING TO COME UP WITH SOME ALTERNATIVES. ARE THOSE GOING TO BE REAL ALTERNATIVES OR ARE THEY GOING TO BE CAMPAIGN STATEMENTS?

Myers: THOSE ARE GOING TO BE REAL ALTERNATIVES. I DON'T BELIEVE IT'S POLITICAL TO SEE TO IT THAT CHILDREN ARE PROTECTED IN THIS STATE. I DON'T BELIEVE IT'S POLITICAL TO SEE TO IT THAT THERE ARE ENOUGH LAW ENFORCEMENT OFFICERS OUT THERE IN THIS STATE. I DON'T BELIEVE IT'S POLITICAL TO STOP A PROPERTY TAX INCREASE, FOR EXAMPLE. I DON'T BELIEVE IT'S POLITICAL TO SEE TO IT THAT SENIOR CITIZENS CAN AFFORD PRESCRIPTION DRUGS. NO, I DON'T BELIEVE THAT'S POLITICAL AT ALL.

Rants: YOU OUTLINED WHERE YOU WANT TO PUT MONEY BACK. JUST TELL ME WHERE THE MONEY IS GOING TO COME FROM.

Myers: ALL RIGHT, I WILL. YOU KNOW, SOME TIME AGO WE OFFERED THE USE TAX AS FAR AS EDUCATION IS CONCERNED, AND YOU REJECTED THAT. SO IT SEEMS LIKE THAT WON'T GO. THEN I CAME BACK HERE JUST, WHAT, SIX WEEKS AGO WE WERE ON THIS SHOW, SOMETHING LIKE THAT? AND I SAID, WELL, LET'S NOT STOP ONE ROAD PROJECT, LET'S USE THE RESTRICTED CAPITAL'S FUND, AND YOU REJECTED THAT. FINE. I'VE GOT A THIRD ALTERNATIVE. LET'S USE THE UNDERGROUND STORAGE TANK FUND. I'D LIKE TO PUT LESS THAN $40 MILLION BACK INTO THAT BUDGET, AND I'M GOING TO ARTICULATE THAT IN MY AMENDMENT -- IN THE AMENDMENT THAT WE'RE GOING TO OFFER ON TUESDAY. BUT I BELIEVE THAT'S A PLACE WE'VE ALREADY GONE. THERE IS PRECEDENT FOR IT. AND WE HAVE $90 MILLION SITTING THERE. I'M CERTAINLY NOT TALKING ABOUT SPENDING ALL OF IT, BY ANY STRETCH OF THE IMAGINATION. BUT I AM TALKING ABOUT FUNDING PRIORITIES OF EDUCATION AND CHILD PROTECTION AND PUBLIC SAFETY. THOSE ARE IMPORTANT TO DEMOCRATS AND THEY ALWAYS HAVE BEEN.

Rants: WE'VE LOOKED AT USING THE UNDERGROUND STORAGE TANK FUND. AND WE ARE USING THAT IN SOME REGARDS TO HELP PROP UP THE '03 BUDGET AS IT IS NOW. BUT THERE'S A REASON WHY WE STOPPED AT A CERTAIN LEVEL OF FUNDS THAT WE'VE TAKEN OUT OF THAT. THAT IS BECAUSE IF YOU TALK TO THE PEOPLE WHO RUN OUR UNDERGROUND STORAGE TANK CLEANUP FUND, LEAKING GAS TANKS, THEY'RE AT THE POINT THAT IF WE WERE TO TAKE ANY ADDITIONAL DOLLARS OUT, THEY WOULD HAVE TO BOND. THEY WOULD HAVE TO ISSUE BONDS, BORROW MONEY TO CONTINUE TO FUND THE PROJECTS THAT THEY'RE LEGALLY OBLIGATED TO DO. WHICH MEANS, DICK, UNDER YOUR PROPOSAL, YOU WANT TO ISSUE TEN-YEAR BONDS RATHER THAN MAKING ANY BUDGET REDUCTIONS NOW. HOW ARE WE GOING TO CONTINUE TO PAY FOR THOSE IN THE FUTURE?

Myers: LET ME TELL YOU SOMETHING. YOU'RE ASSUMING THAT THE UNDERGROUND STORAGE TANK FUND IS GOING TO BE OVER WITH IN FOUR TO FIVE YEARS. THAT'S NOT TRUE. THERE ARE MANY --

Rants: WELL, UNDER YOUR PLAN, ABSOLUTELY NOT.

Myers: WELL, IT WILL NOT, REGARDLESS. YOU'RE GOING TO HAVE TO EXTEND THAT PROGRAM NO MATTER WHAT, BECAUSE THERE ARE MORE UNDERGROUND STORAGE TANKS OUT THERE THAT HAVE PROBLEMS THAN YOU REALIZE.

Rants: SO THE DEMOCRATIC PLAN IS TO BORROW MONEY RATHER THAN MAKING CUTS.

Myers: THE DEMOCRATIC PLAN IS TO FUND ITS PRIORITIES.

Glover: MR. RANTS, WE'RE TALKING ABOUT A LOT OF BUDGET ISSUES HERE. THERE HAVE BEEN A NUMBER OF OTHER THINGS TALKED ABOUT AS PART OF THIS SPECIAL SESSION. WHAT SORT OF SIDE ISSUES ARE YOU GOING TO DEBATE ON, OTHER THAN JUST THE '02 AND '03 BUDGET?

Rants: THERE ARE A COUPLE OF -- WELL, (A) WE ARE TALKING ABOUT SOME MEDICAID COST CONTAINMENT, BUT THOSE ARE RELATED FISCALLY TO WHAT WE'RE TRYING TO DO. THERE ARE A COUPLE OF BILLS THAT THE GOVERNOR ITEM VETOED -- OR EXCUSE ME, VETOED, BECAUSE THERE WERE SOME DRAFTING AREAS ERRORS. ONE HAVING TO DO WITH COOPERATIVES -- FARM COOPERATIVES. THE OTHER HAVING TO DO WITH THE MASTER SETTLEMENT REGARDING THE TOBACCO SETTLEMENT, MAKING SURE THAT ALL TOBACCO COMPANIES COMPLY. WE'VE GOT THOSE TWO ISSUES THAT WE'LL DEAL WITH. WE'RE GOING TO ROLL THOSE INTO THE '02 BUDGET PLAN. I BELIEVE THOSE WERE AGREED TO. BUT ASIDE FROM THAT, THOSE ARE THE ONLY POLICY ISSUES WE'LL CONSIDER.

Glover: NO OTHER SIDE ISSUES?

Rants: NOT PLANNING ON IT.

Yepsen: MR. RANTS, I WANT TO TALK ABOUT SOME OF THE SPECIFICS THAT ARE CONTAINED IN THIS '03 BUDGET PACKAGE YOU'RE GOING TO PROPOSE. WHAT OF THEM IS YOU REDUCE SOME OF THE MONEY SPENT ON SCHOOL TECHNOLOGY, TECHNOLOGY FOR COMMUNITY COLLEGES. WHY?

Rants: IT'S A REGRETTABLE CUT. I'M A BIG BELIEVER IN TECHNOLOGY. I WAS PART OF THE GROUP THAT PUT THE SCHOOL TECHNOLOGY PLAN TOGETHER IN THE FIRST PLACE. AND THAT WAS ORIGINALLY, DAVID, A FIVE-YEAR PLAN. WE'RE NOW IN YEAR SEVEN. WE HAD TO MAKE SOME CHOICES, VERY DIFFICULT CHOICES. YOU KNOW, WE'RE NOT GOING TO BORROW MONEY. WE'RE NOT GOING TO RAISE TAXES, WHICH MEANS WHEN YOU'RE SHORT $200 MILLION, YOU'RE GOING TO HAVE TO MAKE CUTS. IF I'VE GOT TO CHOOSE BETWEEN TEACHERS AND COMPUTERS, I'M GOING TO CHOOSE TO FUND THE TEACHERS BEFORE I CHOOSE THE COMPUTERS. IS THAT AN ISSUE THAT WE'LL HAVE TO REVISIT SOMEDAY? YEAH, IT PROBABLY IS. BUT AT THIS TIME, IF YOU DON'T WANT TO CUT THE TEACHER COMPENSATION PLAN, IF YOU DON'T WANT TO DIP HEAVILY INTO HEALTH CARE PROGRAMS, SOMETHING'S GOT TO GIVE.

Yepsen: MR. MYERS, WHAT'S WRONG WITH THAT? I MEAN, IT'S GOING BACK TO DEAN'S QUESTION OF IS ANYBODY REALLY GOING TO NOTICE. SO WHAT IF A SCHOOL HAS TO KEEP USING THE SAME OLD COMPUTER FOR ANOTHER YEAR?

Myers: WELL, WOULD THE WORLD JUST STOP TECHNOLOGY ALL OF A SUDDEN BECAUSE WE'VE GOT A PROGRAM THAT RAN OUT AFTER FIVE YEARS? WE'RE GOING TO BE IN THIS TECHNOLOGY BUSINESS FOR HEREAFTER, AND I THINK OUR STUDENTS NEED TO KEEP UP WITH THE REST OF THE WORLD. ARE WE JUST GOING TO SAY THAT IOWA STOPS AND TAKES A PASS ON TECHNOLOGY AND COMPUTER EDUCATION? I DON'T THINK SO, NOT IF WE WANT TO KEEP UP WITH THE WORLD.

Glover: MR. RANTS, YOUR PROGRAM ALSO INCLUDES A REQUIREMENT THAT STATE WORKERS TAKE A HALF DAY OF UNPAID FURLOUGH EVERY MONTH. HOW COMMITTED ARE YOU TO THAT FURLOUGH PROGRAM?

Rants: THAT IS PART OF OUR PLAN. I MEAN, WHEN YOU LOOK AT THE SALARY PACKAGE THAT WAS NEGOTIATED, IT IS THE LARGEST INCREASE IN STATE GOVERNMENT OF EVERYTHING IN THE BUDGET. AND WHAT WE ARE SUGGESTING IS THAT WE DO A HALF-DAY FURLOUGH. WE'LL GIVE DEPARTMENTS SOME FLEXIBILITY, IF THEY CAN FIND SOME REDUCTIONS ELSEWHERE. AND SOMETIMES THE REGENTS CAN DO THAT. THEY PREFER TO MAKE OTHER REDUCTIONS THAN THE FURLOUGH PLAN. BUT MORE IMPORTANTLY, WHAT WE'RE SEEING IN LOOKING AT THIS HALF-DAY-PER-MONTH FURLOUGH IS THAT DEPARTMENTS NOT INSTITUTED FOR MORE THAN 25 PERCENT OF THEIR WORK FORCE AT ANY ONE TIME. YOU KNOW, ON FRIDAY, YOU'VE GOT THE DEPARTMENT OF HUMAN SERVICES SHUTTING ITS DOORS. YOU'VE GOT THE DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE SHUTTING ITS DOORS. IT SEEMS TO ME THAT THEY DON'T REQUIRE ALL EMPLOYEES TO TAKE THEIR VACATION DAYS ON THE SAME DAY OR TAKE THEIR SICK DAYS ON THE SAME DAY. THEY SPREAD THOSE OUT. WHY WOULDN'T WE ALSO ASK THOSE DEPARTMENTS TO SPREAD OUT THOSE FURLOUGH DAYS? IF THEY MANAGE IT CORRECTLY, I THINK IT COULD BE DONE IN SUCH A WAY THAT IT DOES NOT IMPACT SERVICES TO IOWANS.

Glover: MR. MYERS, WHAT'S WRONG WITH ASKING STATE WORKERS WHO DID GET A PAY INCREASE IN THIS LATEST CONTRACT TO TAKE SOME TIME OFF AS PART OF THIS BUDGET --

Myers: AND ALSO, A GREAT DEAL OF THOSE WORKERS FORGO THEIR PAY INCREASE. IT'S ACTUALLY 2 PERCENT, NOT 3 PERCENT, WHEN YOU FACTOR THAT IN. AND NOT EVERYONE IS GOING TO GET THAT SENIORITY THING THAT THEY TALKED ABOUT, OR LONGEVITY PAY. SO IT'S A LITTLE BIT DISINGENUOUS TO SAY THAT IT'S THIS HUGE AMOUNT. IN FACT, THE AMOUNT OF MONEY THEY'RE TALKING ABOUT PUTTING INTO THE BUDGET EVERY YEAR FOR SALARIES HAS BEEN PRETTY CONSTANT. I REVIEWED THE LAST TEN YEARS, AND THE $57 MILLION THAT THE GOVERNOR ORIGINALLY ASKED FOR IS NOT OUT OF LINE COMPARED TO OTHER YEARS. THE OTHER THING I WANT TO SAY IS THIS: IT'S A BIT DISINGENUOUS TO JUST TALK ABOUT FURLOUGHS THEMSELVES AS FAR AS EMPLOYEES ARE CONCERNED. LET'S REMEMBER THE FACT THAT WE'VE ALREADY LAID OFF A LOT OF PEOPLE AND WE'VE ALREADY CUT SERVICES IN THOSE DEPARTMENTS TO PEOPLE THAT NEED THEM. IN ADDITION, ALSO, WE'RE GOING ACROSS THE BOARD 2 PERCENT, SAY IN THE DEPARTMENT OF HUMAN SERVICES, SO THERE ARE GOING TO BE MORE PEOPLE LAID OFF THAN JUST THOSE FURLOUGHS. THAT IS PRECISELY WHAT WILL HAPPEN. AND IT WILL ALSO HAPPEN IN PLACES LIKE THE HIGHWAY PATROL, FOR EXAMPLE. WHETHER YOU'RE TALKING ABOUT SALARIES OR NOT, YOU'RE ALSO GOING TO BE LAYING OFF MORE PEOPLE THAN JUST THOSE FURLOUGH DAYS.

Yepsen: MR. MYERS, WHAT ABOUT THE COMMENT MR. RANTS JUST MADE THAT THE DEPARTMENT OF HUMAN SERVICES AND THE DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE JUST SHUTTING DOWN THEIR WHOLE OPERATIONS? IS THAT REALLY NECESSARY OR ARE THOSE DEPARTMENTS JUST TRYING TO MAKE THE TAXPAYER FEEL IT A LITTLE BIT?

Myers: I CAN'T -- I DO NOT -- I DON'T WANT TO COMMENT ON WHAT THEIR AIMS WERE, NECESSARILY, BUT I DO AGREE THAT THOSE DEPARTMENTS SHOULD REMAIN OPEN. I DON'T -- I DON'T AGREE WITH THEM SHUTTING DOWN THE DEPARTMENT. I DON'T.

Yepsen: THE REGENTS INSTITUTIONS, MR. MYERS, ARE SAYING WE HAVE TO SHUT DOWN OUR ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT ACTIVITY. YOU REPRESENT ONE OF THOSE COLLEGES IN THE LEGISLATURE. IS THAT WISE FOR STATE UNIVERSITIES TO TURN THEIR BACK ON ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT?

Myers: I THINK THE STATE GOVERNMENT IS TURNING ITS BACK ON THE REGENTS UNIVERSITIES. YOU HAVE TO HAVE MONEY TO RUN THESE THINGS. THEY COST MONEY. AND BY THE WAY, THEY PRODUCE THINGS. I NOTE THAT THE MAJORITY LEADER HAS SAID THAT, WELL, MAYBE THEY JUST PRODUCE THINGS FOR JOHNSON COUNTY OR BLACK HAWK COUNTY OR STORY COUNTY. YOU KNOW, THAT'S NOT TRUE. SEVENTY PERCENT OF THE PEOPLE THAT GRADUATE FROM THE UNIVERSITY OF NORTHERN IOWA STAY IN THE STATE AND WORK HERE AND WORK IN COMMUNITIES ALL AROUND THIS STATE. IS THAT NOT A BENEFIT TO THIS STATE? YOU BET IT IS! OUR REGENTS INSTITUTIONS ARE VALUABLE AND IT'S TIME WE START RECOGNIZING THAT.

Yepsen: MR. RANTS --

Rants: IF YOU'RE GOING TO QUOTE ME, QUOTE ME CORRECTLY.

Borg: WHAT DID YOU SAY?

Rants: WHEN I SAID --

Myers: YOU SAID IT ONLY HELPED CERTAIN COMMUNITIES.

Rants: WHEN I TALKED ABOUT THE ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT PROGRAMS THAT ARE BEING RUN BY THE REGENTS INSTITUTIONS, I QUESTIONED WHETHER OR NOT THOSE EVER TRANSLATED TO JOBS OUTSIDE OF THOSE THREE COUNTIES. CHARITON EMPLOYS A LOT OF PEOPLE IN THOSE COUNTIES, BUT WE'VE HAD --

Myers: IT EMPLOYS A LOT OF PEOPLE THROUGHOUT THIS STATE

Rants: WE HAVE HAD A DIFFICULT TIME --

Myers: ASK THE CITY OF MUSCATINE.

Rants: WE'VE HAD A DIFFICULT TIME IN WESTERN IOWA GETTING THE REGENTS TO COME AND DELIVER SERVICES TO OUR PART OF THE STATE. I DON'T SEE SOME OF THOSE THINGS THAT ARE GOING ON IN THOSE RESEARCH PARKS BEING -- TRANSLATING TO JOBS OUTSIDE OF THOSE PARTICULAR COMMUNITIES. THEY'RE GREAT. IF YOU REPRESENT JOHNSON COUNTY, DICK, THAT'S GREAT. I'D DEFEND IT TOO. BUT RIGHT NOW, GIVEN THE CHOICE, I'D RATHER PUT MONEY INTO THE 15 AREA COMMUNITY COLLEGES THAT ARE SPREAD THROUGHOUT THE STATE --

Myers: WELL, THAT'S FINE. LET'S ADD $5 MILLION -- LET'S ADD $5 MILLION TO THIS BUDGET AND PUT IT INTO THOSE COMMUNITY COLLEGES. I'M WITH YOU! WE AGREE!

Rants: WHERE ARE WE GOING TO GET THE MONEY?

Myers: LET ME TELL YOU SOMETHING ELSE. LET ME TELL YOU, HE CITED MUSCATINE AS NOT GETTING ANY HELP OUT OF THE UNIVERSITY OF IOWA. GO DOWN THERE AND SEE THAT PROJECT THAT'S ON THE RIVER DOWN THERE THAT'S A PART OF THE UNIVERSITY OF IOWA'S RESEARCH PARK THAT'S ADDING A LOT OF ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT TO THAT COMMUNITY. SO I REJECT THAT! AND BY THE WAY, IS PAROCHIALISM MORE IMPORTANT THAN THE MISSION OF THE STATE UNIVERSITIES?

Rants: NO, IT'S NOT. BUT THE QUESTION IS WHERE ARE THEY DELIVERING SERVICES.

Glover: MR. RANTS, THERE'S A LOT OF TALK ABOUT LEGISLATORS CUTTING, LEGISLATORS TIDING THINGS OVER, TRYING TO HOLD THINGS TOGETHER UNTIL AFTER THE NOVEMBER ELECTION. IS THIS STATE SETTING ITSELF UP FOR A TAX INCREASE AFTER THE ELECTION?

Rants: I DON'T BELIEVE SO. THAT'S CERTAINLY NOT OUR PLAN. THAT'S WHY WE WANT TO DEAL WITH THE PROBLEM TODAY, RATHER THAN POSTPONE IT FOR A COUPLE MORE YEARS LIKE REPRESENTATIVE MYERS HAS -- IS TALKING ABOUT, RATHER THAN TRYING TO POSTPONE IT FOR A COUPLE OF YEARS LIKE THE GOVERNOR IS TALKING ABOUT. WE HAVE TRIED REPEATEDLY TO BRING THIS BUDGET TO A CLOSE, WHETHER IT'S THROUGH DEAPPROPRIATIONS THAT THE GOVERNOR VETOES; SMALLER BUDGETS THAT THE GOVERNOR COMPLAINS ABOUT AND CALLS US BACK INTO A SPECIAL SESSION TO SPEND MORE MONEY WHICH, APPARENTLY, NOW HE'S NOT TALKING ABOUT ANYMORE; AND TRYING TO MAKE THESE REAL CUTS. IF YOU DON'T DEAL WITH THE PROBLEM NOW, AS WE ARE, YOU WILL BE HAVING FUTURE PROBLEMS. I DON'T KNOW IF SOMEBODY HAS GOT A SECRET PLAN TO RAISE TAXES AFTER THE ELECTION. REPUBLICANS DO NOT. THAT'S WHY WE WANT TO SOLVE THIS BUDGET NOW AND PUT IT TO BED.

Glover: MR. MYERS?

Myers: DEMOCRATS DO NOT HAVE A PLAN TO SECRETLY RAISE TAXES, AND WE WILL NOT HAVE A PLAN. BUT I CAN TELL YOU ONE THING: I RAN A BUSINESS FOR FORTY YEARS; IN FACT, I'M STILL DOING THAT IN THIS STATE. AND I WENT THROUGH A LOT OF HARD TIMES. SO DO A LOT OF PEOPLE THAT RUN A BUSINESS. YOU KNOW, ECONOMIC DOWNTURNS, ALL KINDS OF THINGS THAT CAN HAPPEN TO YOU. EMBARGOES ON PRODUCT, STUFF LIKE THAT. YOU HAVE PRIORITIES, THINGS YOU'VE GOT TO KEEP RUNNING. SOMETIMES IT MEANS YOU MANAGE YOUR RESOURCES AND YOU TAKE CARE OF THINGS, AND I THINK WE'RE NOT DOING THAT IN STATE GOVERNMENT. AND ONE MORE THING, ONE OF THE THINGS THAT'S REALLY HOLDING US BACK THAT I INTEND TO CALL FOR, IF WE HAVE TO REVAMP HOW WE DECIDE WHAT OUR PROJECTIONS ARE, WE NEED TO GET SOME ADVICE OUTSIDE OF THE DOME ABOUT WHAT'S GOING IN THIS ECONOMY SO WE CAN MAKE ACCURATE PROJECTIONS ABOUT TAXES AND FINANCING AND BUDGETS. AND I TELL YOU, I'VE BEEN SICK AND TIRED OF THIS PROCESS. WE'RE BACK HERE, WHAT, FOR THE FIFTH TIME OR THE FOURTH TIME? AND I'M NOT BLAMING MR. RANTS ABOUT THAT --

Rants: I'M SICK AND TIRED OF IT TOO. EVERY TIME THAT WE TRY TO MAKE SOME CUTS OR MAKE A DEAPPROPRIATION, WE'VE GOT THE GOVERNOR TELLING US, "YOU DON'T NEED TO MAKE THESE CUTS. DON'T MAKE THESE CUTS."

Myers: THE GOVERNOR IS RELYING ON THE SAME INFORMATION WE ARE. [ SPEAKING AT ONCE ]

Borg: YOU MADE THAT SAME POINT, THOUGH, ABOUT FOUR WEEKS AGO.

Myers: THAT'S RIGHT. I'VE BEEN TALKING ABOUT THAT FOR SOME TIME! LET'S CLEAN UP THIS PROCESS!

Borg: DAVE.

Yepsen: MR. RANTS, IS -- WE'VE TALKED ABOUT '02. WE'VE TALKED ABOUT '03. IS '04 GOING TO BE THE END OF IT? WILL THIS STATE BE THROUGH THIS MESS BY THEN?

Rants: I BELIEVE SO. I CERTAINLY HOPE SO. I CAN'T BELIEVE THE ECONOMY IS GOING TO BE AT THE LEVEL THAT IT'S AT FOR ANOTHER YEAR. BUT ONE OF THE PROBLEMS THAT WE HAVE TO BE VERY CAUTIOUS ABOUT IS NOT BUILDING IN OR PUSHING OFF THE PROBLEM INTO '04. WE'RE LOOKING AT ABOUT $200 MILLION OF ONE-TIME MONEY IN THIS BUDGET, SO THAT HAS TO BE ADDRESSED IN '04. NOW, IF YOU WANT TO DO WHAT DICK IS PROPOSING, AND THAT'S BUILD IN ANOTHER $40 MILLION OF ONE-TIME MONEY TO PROP THIS UP, I DON'T KNOW HOW HE PLANS TO PAY FOR THAT NEXT YEAR WHEN THE LEGISLATURE COMES BACK INTO SESSION.

Yepsen: MR. MYERS, IN YOUR VIEW, IS '04 THE END OF IT?

Myers: I WOULD HESITATE TO PREDICT THAT. I NOTE THAT THE FIRST QUARTER GROSS NATIONAL PRODUCT RECEIVED A REPORT THAT WAS PRETTY GOOD, UP ABOUT 5 PERCENT NATIONALLY. SOONER OR LATER THAT HAS TO WORK ITS WAY THROUGH IOWA. BUT, YOU KNOW, --

Yepsen: I MEAN, WE ALL HOPE IT'S OVER WITH, MR. MYERS, BUT DO YOU SEE A LIGHT AT THE END OF THE TUNNEL, I GUESS, IS --

Myers: I'M ALWAYS AN OPTIMIST.

Glover: MR. RANTS, THIS IS ALL BASED, ALL OF YOUR BUDGET PROJECTIONS, ALL OF YOUR BUDGET TALK IS BASED ON WHAT'S GOING TO BE HAPPENING IN THE ECONOMY. WHAT'S THE ACCEPTED VIEW AT THE STATEHOUSE OF WHAT'S GOING TO HAPPEN IN THE ECONOMY, AND WHEN, IF THERE'S AN ECONOMIC RECOVERY GOING ON, THAT STARTS TO BE FELT HERE IN THE STATE?

Rants: A LOT OF PEOPLE HAVE DIFFERENT THEORIES ABOUT THAT. SOME PEOPLE ARE LOOKING AT TAX RECEIPTS. OTHER FOLKS ARE LOOKING AT THE FEDERAL RESERVE REPORTS. I SPEND A LOT OF TIME ON THE HIGHWAYS, AND MAYBE THAT'S WHY I LIKE THE ROAD FUND. I SPEND A LOT OF TIME ON THE HIGHWAYS IN THIS STATE, AND I'M STARTING TO COUNT TRUCKS. AND I THINK YOU'RE SEEING MORE DURABLE GOODS, MORE HEAVY GOODS BEING MOVED UP AND DOWN IOWA'S HIGHWAYS. TO ME -- AND THAT'S NOT SCIENTIFIC. THAT TELLS ME SOMETHING'S GOING ON, AND IT BODES WELL FOR THE FUTURE. SO I THINK THAT RECOVERY IS AROUND THE CORNER.

Myers: I USED TO BE IN THE BUSINESS OF KEEPING TRACK OF STUFF LIKE THAT BECAUSE IT AFFECTED MY BUSINESS OF SELLING DIESEL FUEL. DIESEL FUEL RECEIPTS ARE NOT UP YET, BUT IT IS AN INDICATOR TO SEE HARD GOODS MOVING AGAIN, YOU KNOW, LIKE REFRIGERATORS AND TRUCKS -- PARDON ME, AUTOMOBILES. WE CALL THEM STINGER TRUCKS, THAT KIND OF THING. THOSE ARE INDICATORS AND I AM OPTIMISTIC THAT THE ECONOMY IS GOING TO COME UP.

Glover: WHEN DOES THAT START TO BE FELT IN IOWA? LET'S SAY THE ECONOMY IS PICKING UP ACROSS THE COUNTRY. IT'S OFTEN SAID THAT IOWA IS THE LAST TO FEEL A RECESSION AND THE LAST TO RECOVER FROM IT. SO HOW LONG BEFORE WE FEEL IT HERE?

Myers: I THINK WHEN WE SEE SOME OF THE INFLUENCE OF NON -- OF THE FEDERAL FARM BUDGET -- THE FARM PROGRAM THAT THEY STARTED, I THINK THAT WILL HAVE SOME EFFECT ON IOWA, THAT SENATOR HARKIN HAS MANAGED TO GET THROUGH THE LEGISLATURE AND THE PRESIDENT SIGNED THE OTHER DAY. SO I THINK THERE'S SOME GOOD THINGS FOR US IN THAT BILL. ALSO, I NOTE THAT WE STARTED A VENTURE CAPITAL PROGRAM, THAT'S A BIPARTISAN BILL THAT REPUBLICANS AND DEMOCRATS WORKED ON. I THINK THAT'S A POSITIVE SIGN FOR ECONOMIC GROWTH IN THE STATE OF IOWA. AND SO I THINK THERE'S SOME THINGS THAT WE CAN WORK TOGETHER AND WE HAVE WORKED TOGETHER.

Borg: MR. RANTS, LET ME PUT IT TO YOU THIS WAY. THERE'S AN OLD SAYING, "NECESSITY IS THE MOTHER OF INVENTION." AND I QUOTED YOU A FEW MINUTES AGO AS SAYING WE'RE LOOKING FOR COST SAVINGS. THE QUESTION IS, DO YOU THINK THE CURRENT ECONOMIC SITUATION AND WHAT THE PUBLIC HAS BEEN EXPOSED TO IS REALLY SOFTENING UP PUBLIC OPINION TO ACCEPT AND MAKE MORE PALATABLE SOME COST SAVINGS, SUCH AS THOSE IN THE FISCHER COMMISSION THAT WERE RECOMMENDED AND WERE OUT THE WINDOW BEFORE?

Rants: I THINK IOWANS UNDERSTAND THAT WE HAVE REACHED A POINT WHERE WE DON'T HAVE A LOT OF CHOICES. AS I SAID EARLIER, MY PHONE HAS BEEN RINGING OFF THE HOOK, AND I ALWAYS OFFER THEM, "IF YOU DON'T WANT ME TO CUT THIS PROGRAM, WHAT DO YOU WANT ME TO CUT?" AND THEY -- TO THE PERSON, THEY UNDERSTAND THAT IOWA IS FACING SOME DIFFICULT TIMES. THEY DON'T ENVY US THE JOB, BUT THEY UNDERSTAND THAT SOME CUTS ARE GOING TO HAVE TO BE MADE. I THINK THAT'S CLEAR.

Borg: MR. MYERS, WHAT DO YOU THINK?

Myers: WELL, YES. YOU KNOW, THERE ARE SOME PRIORITIES THAT PEOPLE HAVE.

Borg: BUT ARE THEY WILLING TO ACCEPT SCHOOL CONSOLIDATIONS? COUNTY CONSOLIDATIONS? THINGS LIKE THAT WOULD SAVE MONEY.

Myers: WELL, YOU TALKED ABOUT BEING THE MOTHER OF INVENTIONS. THE THING THAT DRIVES THAT ARE ECONOMIC PROBLEMS -- ARE ECONOMIC CONSIDERATIONS. WHEN A POLITICAL SUBDIVISION CAN'T FINANCE ITSELF, CAN'T RAISE THE MONEY THAT IT NEEDS TO OPERATE, THOSE ARE THE KINDS OF THINGS THAT DRIVE THAT EQUATION, NOT THE STATEHOUSE.

Yepsen: GENTLEMEN, WE'VE GOT JUST A COUPLE MINUTES LEFT. I WANT TO TURN TO POLITICS. MR. RANTS, WHAT IS THE POLITICAL FALLOUT FROM THIS WHOLE THING ON THE REPUBLICAN LEGISLATURE, ON THE DEMOCRATIC GOVERNOR?

Rants: I THINK MOST OF THE FALLOUT IS ON THE DEMOCRATIC GOVERNOR. I MEAN, TRUE, HE'S GOING TO TRY TO BEAT US ON THE BACK OF THE HEAD WITH A VERBAL BASEBALL BAT ABOUT MAKING ALL THESE CUTS. AT THE SAME TIME, HE HASN'T LAID OUT HIS OWN PROPOSAL TO MAKE ANY REDUCTIONS.

Myers: WELL, I WOULD SAY ONE THING --

Yepsen: MR. MYERS.

Myers: CERTAINLY THE REPUBLICAN MAJORITY IN THE LEGISLATURE -- AND THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES HAS BEEN IN CHARGE FOR TEN YEARS. FOR TEN YEARS YOU'VE BEEN RUNNING THIS BUDGET. THIS IS YOUR BUDGET AND THIS IS YOUR PROBLEM TO COME UP WITH SOLUTIONS ON, AND SO FAR I THINK YOU HAVE TO HAVE A DEBATE ABOUT THAT IN THE CAMPAIGN, AND WE WILL.

Yepsen: IS THERE A DANGER HERE THAT THE VOTER SAYS A PLAGUE ON ALL YOUR HOUSES AND WE WIND UP WITH A REPUBLICAN LEGISLATURE?

Myers: I'M QUITE CONFIDENT TO CARRY OUR PROGRAM TO THE VOTERS OF THIS STATE AND LET THEM MAKE THE DECISION ABOUT WHO OUGHT TO REPRESENT THEM IN THE LEGISLATURE.

Glover: SO THIS BUDGET PROBLEM HELPS DEMOCRATS IN THE LEGISLATURE?

Myers: I THINK SOLUTIONS THAT WE HAVE OFFERED WILL HELP DEMOCRATS IN THE LEGISLATURE.

Glover: MR. RANTS, ISN'T IT IN THE REPUBLICAN PARTY'S INTEREST TO KEEP THIS BUDGET FIGHT GOING; AS LONG AS YOU'RE FIGHTING THE DEMOCRATIC GOVERNOR, YOU'RE TARRING HIM UP?

Rants: ACTUALLY, I DON'T THINK IT IS. I KNOW THAT'S SORT OF THE CONVENTIONAL WISDOM. IT'S TIME TO BRING THIS TO A CLOSE. I'VE GOT LEGISLATORS WHO HAVE GOT OTHER THINGS -- FAMILIES, JOBS, LIVES -- TO RETURN TO. I DO BELIEVE THE GOVERNOR HAS BEEN HURT MORE IN THIS, BUT I ALSO BELIEVE, DICK, THAT THE BUDGET FIGHT, WHEN WE GO TO THE PUBLIC, THE PUBLIC TRUSTS US ON THE BUDGET. I MEAN THEY'VE SEEN THAT WE'VE TRIED TO DEAL WITH IT IN A RESPONSIBLE MANNER. WE HAVEN'T PUSHED IT OFF TO ANOTHER DAY. WE HAVEN'T COME UP WITH A BUNCH OF SPENDING PROPOSALS AT A TIME THAT THEY KNOW THAT WE HAVE TO MAKE SPENDING CUTS. THE PUBLIC GETS IT.

Myers: THEY ALSO GET THE FACT THAT WE ARE GOING TO PROTECT THEIR PRIORITIES WITH EDUCATION AND PUBLIC SAFETY.

Borg: A FEW MINUTES AGO -- OR SECONDS AGO YOU SAID WE HAVE TO BRING THIS TO A CLOSE, AND I DO. AND IT'S NOT THAT WE DON'T LIKE YOU HERE, BUT MAYBE THIS IS THE LAST TIME IN A WHILE WE WILL HAVE YOU BACK TALKING ABOUT THIS.

Rants: THAT WOULD BE ALL RIGHT BY ME.

Borg: ON OUR NEXT EDITION OF "IOWA PRESS," WE'RE GOING TO BE FOCUSING ON CAMPAIGN POLITICS, SPECIFICALLY THE REPUBLICAN PRIMARY FOR THE U.S. SENATE. JOINING US NEXT WEEK AT THE "IOWA PRESS" TABLE, THE TWO G.O.P CONTENDERS: CONGRESSMAN GREG GANSKE OF DES MOINES AND BILL SALIER OF NORA SPRINGS... HERE TO TALK ABOUT THE ISSUES AND THEIR CAMPAIGN STRATEGY, JUST PRIOR TO THE STATEWIDE PRIMARY ELECTION ON TUESDAY, JUNE 4. SO THE PROGRAM IS AT 6:30, NEXT FRIDAY, MAY 31, AND THEN ON SUNDAY, JUNE 2 AT NOON, HERE ON STATEWIDE IOWA PUBLIC TELEVISION. I'M DEAN BORG. THANKS FOR JOINING US TODAY.

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