Home

Iowa Press Transcripts

Iowa Press Links

Iowa Press #3013
November 15 and 17, 2002

Borg: NEW LEADERS ARE SHAPING THE AGENDA FOR THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES IN THE 80TH IOWA GENERAL ASSEMBLY. WE'LL QUESTION ONE OF THOSE NEW LEADERS, THE SPEAKER OF THE IOWA HOUSE, CHRISTOPHER RANTS OF SIOUX CITY, ON THIS EDITION OF "IOWA PRESS."

ANNOUNCER: FUNDING FOR "IOWA PRESS" WAS PROVIDED BY "FRIENDS," THE IOWA PUBLIC TELEVISION FOUNDATION;

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, NOVEMBER 15 EDITION OF "IOWA PRESS." HERE IS DEAN BORG.

Borg: THE 80TH IOWA GENERAL ASSEMBLY CONVENES ON MONDAY, JANUARY 13, AND BETWEEN NOW AND THEN, MAJORITY REPUBLICANS WILL ASSIGN REPRESENTATIVES TO THE VARIOUS COMMITTEES AND DETERMINE THE LEGISLATIVE AGENDA. THE ELECTION OF 2002 BROUGHT NO MAJOR CHANGES IN THE LEGISLATURE'S COMPOSITION IN TERMS OF PARTY CONTROL. REPUBLICANS HOLD AN EIGHT-VOTE MAJORITY STATUS IN BOTH CHAMBERS, BUT THERE IS A CHANGE IN LEADERSHIP. REPUBLICANS HAVE CHOSEN REPRESENTATIVE CHRISTOPHER RANTS OF SIOUX CITY FOR THE POWERFUL SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE POSITION. THAT'S THE ROLE, YOU RECALL, HELD BY REPRESENTATIVE BRENT SIEGRIST OF COUNCIL BLUFFS DURING THE LAST SESSION. SPEAKER-ELECT RANTS IS NO STRANGER TO THE REPUBLICAN LEADERSHIP TEAM. HE'S NOW SERVING HIS SIXTH TERM AS A STATE REPRESENTATIVE. HE WAS FIRST ELECTED BACK IN 1992, AND FOR THE PAST TWO SESSIONS, HE LED MAJORITY REPUBLICANS IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES. SPEAKER-ELECT RANTS, WELCOME BACK TO "IOWA PRESS."

Rants: THANK YOU VERY MUCH. GLAD TO BE HERE.

Borg: THIS TIME WITH A NEW TITLE. MOVING UP. ACROSS THE TABLE: "DES MOINES REGISTER" POLITICAL COLUMNIST DAVID YEPSEN AND "ASSOCIATED PRESS" SENIOR POLITICAL REPORTER MIKE GLOVER.

Glover: SPEAKER RANTS, FIRST OF ALL, CONGRATULATIONS ON YOUR ELECTION.

Rants: THANK YOU.

Glover: SECONDLY, WHAT'S DIFFERENT AFTER THIS ELECTION? IT STRIKES ME THAT VOTERS ELECTED A DEMOCRATIC GOVERNOR TO A SECOND TERM IN OFFICE. VOTERS RETURNED REPUBLICANS TO THE MAJORITY IN BOTH CHAMBERS OF THE LEGISLATURE. WHAT CHANGED?

Rants: WELL, THE BIGGEST CHANGE IS JUST SIMPLY THE MAKEUP OF THE BODY. WE'RE GOING TO HAVE 40 NEW MEMBERS IN THE IOWA HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES. IN MY CAUCUS, IT'S ALMOST HALF NEW MEMBERS. SO YOU'RE GOING TO HAVE A LOT OF NEW PEOPLE, A LOT OF NEW FACES, ALL OF WHOM ARE BRINGING NEW IDEAS, SORT OF A FRESH PERSPECTIVE. I'M ANXIOUS TO GET THOSE PEOPLE TO WORK, PARTICULARLY ON OUR BUDGET SUBCOMMITTEES, BECAUSE THEY'RE NOT COMING IN WITH HAVING HAD A ROLE OF SORT OF BEING A PROTECTOR OF THE AGENCY. THEY'RE COMING IN AS A TAXPAYER'S WATCHDOG AND WANTING TO ASK THE QUESTION "WHY NOT? WHY HAVEN'T WE TRIED THIS? WHY HAVEN'T WE TRIED THAT?" SO I THINK THE BIGGEST CHANGE IS JUST THE FACT THAT HALF OF THE ASSEMBLY IS BRAND NEW.

Glover: AND YOU'VE HAD A CHANCE TO KIND OF REFLECT A LITTLE BIT ON THE RESULTS OF THE ELECTION AND LOOK AT THE PROBLEMS COMING AHEAD OF YOU. HAVE YOU LOOKED AT ANY AREAS WHERE YOU THINK IT'S POSSIBLE THAT REPUBLICANS IN THE LEGISLATURE AND VILSACK CAN WORK TOGETHER?

Rants: SURE. MIKE, A LOT OF PEOPLE HAVE COME OUT OF THIS ELECTION SAYING THAT IT'S A STATUS QUO ELECTION, SAYING THAT THEY HOPE THERE ISN'T GOING TO BE GRIDLOCK. THAT IS MY HOPE TOO. THE GOVERNOR OFFERED, EXTENDED THE HAND OF BIPARTISANSHIP SAYING HE WANTED TO WORK WITH US. OBVIOUSLY WITH THE DEMOCRATIC GOVERNOR AND THE REPUBLICAN LEGISLATURE, WE'RE GOING TO HAVE TO WORK TOGETHER. I THINK IOWANS WANT US TO WORK TOGETHER. THEY DON'T WANT TO HAVE GRIDLOCK. THEY DON'T WANT TO HAVE GOVERNMENT SHUTDOWN. BUT BY PARTISANSHIP MEANS THAT BOTH SIDES GIVE AND TAKE. IT DOESN'T MEAN THAT WE JUST DO WHAT THE GOVERNOR WANTS US TO DO, AND THAT'S BIPARTISANSHIP. I HOPE THE GOVERNOR WILL LOOK AT SOME OF THE IDEAS THAT WE'RE GOING TO PUT FORWARD, WHETHER IT BE ON ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT, WHETHER IT BE ON HOW WE HANDLE SOME OF THESE DIFFERENT ITEMS IN THE BUDGET. WE'RE GOING TO HAVE TO WORK TOGETHER. I THINK ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT IS ONE OF THOSE AREAS THAT BOTH PARTIES CAMPAIGNED ON, AND WE SHOULD BE ABLE TO FIND SOME ROOM FOR COMPROMISE ON BOTH SIDES.

Yepsen: MR. SPEAKER, HOW WILL THE TENOR BE DIFFERENT? WHILE IT'S TRUE YOU DO HAVE A LOT OF NEW MEMBERS IN THE LEGISLATURE, THE LEADERSHIP TEAM IS PRETTY MUCH THE SAME: THE SAME GOVERNOR, THE SAME TEAM OF HOUSE AND SENATE REPUBLICAN LEADERS. HOW DOES THE ELECTION CHANGE THE TENOR?

Rants: I GUESS, DAVID, I HADN'T REALLY THOUGHT ABOUT THAT QUESTION. OUR LEADERSHIP TEAM IS A LITTLE BIT DIFFERENT, BUT THE TENOR WILL PROBABLY BE FAIRLY SIMILAR. HOPEFULLY -- THE GOVERNOR HAS ANNOUNCED THAT HE'S NOT PLANNING ON RUNNING FOR REELECTION. PERHAPS THAT WILL TAKE SOME OF THE POLITICKING OUT OF IT, WHERE HE'S NOT TRYING TO CAMPAIGN FOR SOMETHING. I AM HOPEFUL THAT IF WE CAN PICK TWO OR THREE THINGS TO FOCUS ON AND IF WE CAN MEET WITH THE GOVERNOR BEFORE THE BEGINNING OF THE LEGISLATIVE SESSION AND SETTLE ON THOSE TWO OR THREE THINGS THAT BOTH PARTIES AGREE ARE OUR PRIORITIES, RATHER THAN TRYING TO TACKLE A DOZEN DIFFERENT ISSUES IN ONE GENERAL ASSEMBLY, HOPEFULLY THAT WILL IMPROVE THE TENOR.

Yepsen: DOES IT CHANGE THE MIX AT ALL OR THE TENOR UP THERE THAT THREE TIMES NOW THE VOTERS OF IOWA HAVE SAID WE WANT A REPUBLICAN LEGISLATURE AND A DEMOCRATIC GOVERNOR? DOES THAT SEND A SIGNAL TO YOU? DOES THAT SEND A SIGNAL TO YOUR MEMBERS THAT THEY REALLY DO WANT TOM VILSACK DOWNSTAIRS, AND TOM VILSACK IS GOING TO HAVE TO LEARN THAT, YEAH, THEY REALLY WANT REPUBLICANS UPSTAIRS?

Rants: IT'S INTERESTING. WE'VE GOT A -- IN OUR DIVERSE CAUCUS, I'VE HEARD BOTH OPINIONS, FOLKS WHO DO WANT TO HAVE A MORE COOPERATIVE ATTITUDE, WORKING RELATIONSHIP WITH THE GOVERNOR; OTHER FOLKS WHO LOOK AT THE ELECTION AND SAY, YOU KNOW WHAT, THEY MAY HAVE REELECTED THE GOVERNOR BUT THEY SENT US IN THERE BECAUSE THEY ARE VERY CONCERNED -- IOWANS ARE VERY CONCERNED ABOUT THE MANAGEMENT OF THE STATE'S FINANCES. AND THE INTERESTING THING IS, YOU KNOW, THE DEMOCRATS TRIED TO MAKE THE ELECTION A REFERENDUM ON THE REPUBLICAN BUDGET. IF THEY DID THAT, WELL, THEN WE WON THAT REFERENDUM.

Yepsen: WHAT PERCENTAGE IS THERE, THOUGH, MR. SPEAKER, TO GET IN A FIGHT WITH TOM VILSACK? I MEAN YOU'RE RIGHT: HE'S LEAVING OFFICE; YOU HAVE NO REASON TO SOFTEN HIM UP OR CHEW HIM UP.

Rants: NO, THERE ISN'T A REASON TO GET INTO A FIGHT WITH THE GOVERNOR, BUT I THINK THE FACT THAT WE CAME THROUGH THIS ELECTION CYCLE WHERE THEY WANTED TO MAKE THE REPUBLICAN BUDGET OR MAKE THE ELECTION -- OR REFERENDUM ON THE REPUBLICAN BUDGET, REPUBLICANS SUCCEEDED, MEANS WE DON'T HAVE TO BE AFRAID OF THE GOVERNOR EITHER ON THOSE PARTICULAR ISSUES.

Glover: WHAT KIND OF A MESSAGE DID IT SEND YOU THAT TOM VILSACK WON REELECTION BY 100,000 VOTES, FOUR TIMES MORE PEOPLE THAN YOU REPRESENT?

Rants: I -- TO BE HONEST, MIKE, I HAVEN'T LOOKED AT A LOT OF THE GOVERNOR'S RESULTS. I'VE BEEN LOOKING AT WHERE WE WON AND LOST PARTICULAR RACES IN THE HOUSE AND WHY THAT OCCURRED. I THINK THE GUBERNATORIAL CAMPAIGNS PROBABLY HAD MORE TO DO WITH EACH OTHER THAN ANY RELATIONSHIP TO THE LEGISLATURE.

Borg: DO YOU READ INTO THOSE ELECTION RESULTS, AS YOU SET PRIORITIES, ANY MANDATE?

Rants: I THINK OUR BIGGEST MANDATE IS THAT IOWANS CHOSE REPUBLICANS IN THE LEGISLATURE BECAUSE THEY ARE CONCERNED ABOUT THE STATE'S FINANCES. THEY MIGHT HAVE REELECTED GOVERNOR VILSACK FOR WHATEVER REASON THAT EACH INDIVIDUAL VOTER HAD, BUT I THINK ULTIMATELY THEY SAID, "WE WANT SOMEBODY WHO IS GOING TO KEEP AN EYE ON THE TAXPAYERS' CHECKBOOK" AND THEY TRUSTED US WITH THAT.

Glover: YOU SAID THAT YOU'D LIKE TO FIND TWO OR THREE ITEMS WHERE YOU COULD SIT DOWN AND WORK WITH GOVERNOR VILSACK, AND YOU'VE MENTIONED ONE, ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT. YOU BOTH RAN ON ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT, SO PRESUMABLY THAT'S GOING TO BE IN THAT VERY SHORT LIST OF ITEMS. GIVE ME THE OTHERS.

Rants: PROPERTY TAX REFORM WILL BE NUMBER TWO --

Glover: WHAT DO YOU MEAN BY THAT?

Rants: -- AND RESTRUCTURING STATE GOVERNMENT WILL BE NUMBER THREE. PROPERTY TAX REFORM, WE WANT TO FULLY FUND THE CREDITS. THAT'S GOING TO BE HOUSE FILE NUMBER ONE THAT COMES OUT --

Glover: AND THAT'S ABOUT $4.5 MILLION?

Rants: CORRECT. NUMBER TWO IS GOING TO BE TRYING TO TAKE PROPERTY TAXES OFF AUTOMATIC PILOT. AND NUMBER THREE IS GOING TO HAVE TO BE SOME SORT OF LIMITATION THAT WE PUT IN PLACE TO KEEP PROPERTY TAXES FROM GOING UP. THAT RELATES BACK TO ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT, BECAUSE ONE OF THE BIGGEST HURDLES THE BUSINESSES ARE FACING AROUND THIS STATE IS THE PROPERTY TAX BILL GOING UP. YOU HEAR EXAMPLES OF SMALL BUSINESSES THAT CAN'T EXPAND BECAUSE THE MONEY THAT SHOULD HAVE GONE INTO NEW EQUIPMENT OR NEW EMPLOYEES IS INSTEAD GOING INTO THE COUNTY AND THE CITY AND THE SCHOOL DISTRICT.

Yepsen: CAN YOU AFFORD, SERIOUSLY, TO DO MUCH ABOUT PROPERTY TAXES? I MEAN THE WAY THE STATE DEALS WITH PROPERTY TAX RELIEF IS YOU TAKE INCOME AND SALES TAX DOLLARS AND YOU PUT THEM INTO SOME LOCAL GOVERNMENT PROGRAM IN THE HOPE THAT IT BUYS DOWN THE PROPERTY TAX BILL. THE STATE DOESN'T HAVE A LOT OF MONEY SO, REALISTICALLY, MR. SPEAKER, IOWANS ARE NOT GOING TO SEE MUCH REDUCTION IN THEIR PROPERTY TAX BILLS REGARDLESS OF WHAT YOU DO; IS THAT CORRECT?

Rants: WE CAN'T AFFORD TO NOT MAKE ANY CHANGES, THOUGH, DAVID. IT IS CHOKING A LOT OF BUSINESSES IN THIS STATE.

Yepsen: WELL, WHAT CHANGES WILL YOU MAKE?

Rants: THE FIRST THING WE NEED TO DO IS LOOK AT THE WAY THAT WE VALUE PROPERTY AND THE FACT THAT IT IS ON AUTOMATIC PILOT. I'VE GOTTEN INTO MORE THAN MY FAIR SHARE OF DISCUSSIONS WITH CITY COUNCIL MEMBERS AND COUNTY BOARD OF SUPERVISORS THAT SAY IT'S NOT ON AUTOMATIC PILOT. IT IS! WHEN I LOOK AT CITY COUNCIL MEMBERS AND COUNTY SUPERVISORS THAT SAY, "THERE'S NOTHING WE CAN DO ABOUT IT, THE VALUATIONS WENT UP, AND SO YOUR PROPERTY TAX BILL WENT UP," THAT'S NOT RIGHT. WE OUGHT TO ACTUALLY HAVE AN OPPORTUNITY FOR VOTERS TO SEE WHEN THE COUNCIL VOTES ON IT OR WHEN DOES THEIR SUPERVISORS VOTE ON IT. WE'VE GOT TO BREAK THAT AUTOMATIC INCREASE. JUST BECAUSE THE VALUATIONS WENT UP TO CREATE SOME SORT OF EQUALITY AROUND THE STATE FOR THE SCHOOL FOUNDATION FORMULA DOESN'T -- SHOULD NOT MEAN -- SHOULD NOT MEAN THAT THE PROPERTY TAXPAYERS HAVE TO PAY A HIGHER BILL.

Glover: BUT DAVID'S QUESTION GOES BACK TO THE MIX BETWEEN OUR VARIOUS TAXES: SALES TAXES, INCOME TAXES, PROPERTY TAXES. ISN'T THIS IN FACT, HISTORICALLY, PRECISELY THE WRONG TIME TO TACKLE THAT QUESTION, BECAUSE HISTORICALLY WE'LL LEARN THAT IF YOU LOOK AT IT THAT THE ONLY TIME YOU CAN TACKLE THE WHOLE QUESTION OF TAX REFORM IS WHEN YOU'VE GOT A BUNCH OF MONEY AND YOU CAN BUY PEOPLE OFF? YOU CAN'T DO TAX REFORM WHEN YOU'RE BROKE.

Rants: BUT WHETHER OR NOT WE HAVE MONEY TO INJECT IN AND TRY TO BUY DOWN OR TO SEND TO LOCAL GOVERNMENTS -- BECAUSE PART OF THE PROBLEM, MIKE, WHEN WE HAVE SENT MONEY TO LOCAL GOVERNMENTS TO OFFSET TAXES, FOR INSTANCE, WHEN WE STARTED PICKING UP THE COST -- MORE OF THE COST OF MENTAL HEALTH FUNDED AT THE COUNTY LEVEL, THAT DIDN'T MEAN THE PROPERTY TAXES WENT DOWN. THEY JUST PUSHED IN ON ONE SIDE OF THE BALLOON, AND THEY RAISED THE TAXES SOMEPLACE ELSE.

Glover: SO THE HEADLINE OF THIS SHOW IS WE CAN SAY GOOD-BYE TO LOCAL CONTROL.

Rants: NO, THAT'S NOT THE HEADLINE OF THIS SHOW, BUT IT IS MEANING WE NEED TO FOCUS ON BREAKING THAT AUTOMATIC INCREASE.

Yepsen: IS THERE ANYTHING ELSE -- JUST TO MAKE SURE WE FLUSH THIS QUESTION OUT, IS THERE ANYTHING ELSE ON THE REPUBLICAN AGENDA GOING INTO THIS SESSION? YOU'VE MENTIONED SEVERAL THINGS HERE, BUT I JUST WANT TO MAKE SURE WE COVERED ALL THOSE BASES.

Rants: ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT IS PROBABLY GOING TO BE THE NUMBER ONE ISSUE THAT A LOT OF PEOPLE ARE GOING TO FOCUS ON AND WE HOPE THAT, AT THE END OF TWO YEARS, THAT PEOPLE WILL JUDGE US ON. BUT THERE ARE A LOT OF OTHER ITEMS. I MEAN THE COURTS ARE GOING TO THROW US A REDISTRICTING PLAN. I DON'T KNOW WHAT THAT'S GOING TO LOOK LIKE, BUT NO DOUBT THAT'S GOING TO CONSUME A LOT OF OUR TIME. I MENTIONED BRIEFLY RESTRUCTURING STATE GOVERNMENT. THAT IS GOING TO BE, SORT OF, THE HAND-AND-GLOVE WAY WE APPROACH THE BUDGET, WHETHER WE'RE TALKING ABOUT MEDICAID, WHICH IS GOING TO CONSUME A LOT OF TIME WITH THIS GENERAL ASSEMBLY. THAT'S A PART OF STATE GOVERNMENT THAT IS EATING THE BUDGET ALIVE. IT'S THE FASTEST GROWING PART OF STATE GOVERNMENT. WE'RE GOING TO HAVE TO DEAL WITH MEDICAID, JUST EXACTLY WHAT WE CAN AFFORD IN TERMS OF SERVICES AND PEOPLE WHO ARE -- YES, DAVID.

Yepsen: WHAT IS YOUR --

Borg: -- ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT, THINGS THAT COST MONEY, OR ARE YOU GOING TO --

Rants: DEAN, THE FACT IS WE DON'T HAVE ANY MONEY.

Borg: THAT'S RIGHT.

Rants: WE'RE GOING TO HAVE TO LOOK AT WHAT WE CAN DO THAT MAKES IOWA MORE COMPETITIVE. I WOULD LIKE TO GO BACK AND LOOK AT THE STATEWIDE ENTERPRISE ZONE PROPOSAL. I THINK WE'RE GOING TO HAVE TO DO A BETTER JOB IN THIS STATE IN COOPERATING WITH OUR REGENTS UNIVERSITIES. WE'RE GOING TO HAVE TO LOOK AT OUR INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY RIGHTS. WE'RE CREATING A LOT OF GREAT IDEAS. A LOT OF GREAT WIDGETS ARE COMING OUT OF THE UNIVERSITIES. THE PROBLEM IS THEY'RE ALL GOING INTO PRODUCTION. THOSE PATENTS, THOSE IDEAS ARE ALL LEAVING THE STATE AND GOING SOMEPLACE ELSE, AND WE'RE GOING TO HAVE TO DO A BETTER JOB OF KEEPING THEM HERE IN IOWA.

Glover: MR. SPEAKER, YOU'VE TALKED A LITTLE BIT ABOUT THE BUDGET PROBLEMS FACING THE STATE THAT YOU'RE GOING TO WRESTLE WITH ALL WINTER. TAKE A SIMPLER VIEW. WHO'S GOING TO GET HURT? WHO'S GOING TO GET WHACKED WHEN THE LEGISLATURE COMES INTO TOWN AND STARTS CUTTING PROGRAMS, BECAUSE CUTTING PROGRAMS MEANS WHACKING PEOPLE? WHO'S GOING TO TAKE THE WHACK.

Rants: THERE ISN'T ONE AREA THAT'S GOING TO TAKE THE WHACK.

Glover: WELL, LIST THEM.

Rants: MY HOPE IS THAT, FIRST AND FOREMOST, WE CAN SHIELD EDUCATION FROM ADDITIONAL CUTS. I THINK IT'S IMPORTANT THAT YOU PUT IT IN PERSPECTIVE. THIS IS THE FIRST TIME IN FOUR YEARS THAT THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY IS GOING TO CONVENE IN JANUARY AND NOT HAVE TO FIX LAST YEAR'S BUDGET. SO WE CAN START IN JANUARY FOCUSING ON HAVING -- DEALING WITH ONE BUDGET FOR THE YEAR. PART OF OUR PROBLEM IS WE'RE COMING IN IN JANUARY WITH $200 MILLION IN BUILT-IN ONE-TIME MONEY THAT WENT FOR SCHOOLS, THAT WENT FOR STATE EMPLOYEES, AND WENT FOR MEDICAID. WE HAVE BUILT IN SPENDING THAT WE'RE GOING TO HAVE TO DEAL WITH FOR THE BUDGET THAT WILL START IN JULY, $200 MILLION FOR SCHOOLS, STATE EMPLOYEES, AND MEDICAID. IF WE ARE GOING TO MOVE FORWARD AS A STATE, WE'RE GOING TO HAVE TO DEAL WITH BOTH THE STATE EMPLOYEE SIDE AND WITH THE MEDICAID SIDE.

Glover: OKAY, SO STATE WORKERS GET WHACKED.

Rants: I'M NOT SAYING STATE WORKERS GET WHACKED.

Glover: PEOPLE WHO NEED HEALTH CARE GET WHACKED.

Rants: BUT, MIKE, I WILL TELL YOU THAT I DON'T KNOW HOW THE STATE CAN AFFORD A $100-MILLION INCREASE IN THE SALARY PACKAGE UNLESS YOU WHACK EDUCATION. AND I DON'T THINK ANYBODY WANTS TO DO THAT.

Glover: I'M NOT PUTTING A VALUE JUDGMENT ON IT. I'M SAYING THAT PEOPLE WHO GET WHACKED ARE STATE EMPLOYEES AND POOR PEOPLE WHO NEED HEALTH CARE.

Rants: I'M LOOKING FORWARD TO SOME OF THE RECOMMENDATIONS THAT COME OUT OF THE PROGRAM ELIMINATION COMMISSION, WHICH THEY ARE SUPPOSED TO BE DELIVERING TO US IN THE NEXT COUPLE WEEKS. WE'VE CHARGED THEM WITH COMING UP WITH $100 MILLION IN SUGGESTIONS. BUT SOME OF THE THINGS WE'RE GOING TO HAVE TO DO IS LOOK AT THE WAYS STATE GOVERNMENT DELIVERS SERVICES. YOU KNOW, GOVERNMENT CAME FORWARD LAST YEAR WITH A PROPOSAL ON A NEW ADMINISTRATIVE SERVICES DIVISION, AND A LOT OF PEOPLE LOOKED AT THAT WITH A LOT OF CONCERN, DIDN'T REALLY SEE A LOT OF SAVINGS. I THINK THAT'S AN AREA THAT WE NEED TO GO BACK AND REEXAMINE, WHERE YOU POOL TOGETHER SOME OF THE PURCHASING POWER OF STATE GOVERNMENT AND MAKE STATE GOVERNMENT BID AND COMPETE WITH PRIVATE ENTERPRISE FOR THINGS LIKE OUR FLEETS, THINGS LIKE PRINTING, TECHNOLOGY SERVICES. YOU KNOW, IF WE REALLY WANT TO SAVE MONEY -- AND THIS WILL UPSET THE FOURTH BRANCH OF STATE GOVERNMENT -- WE NEED TO INCLUDE THE REGENTS IN THAT. THE REGENTS ARE VERY UPSET AT THE BUDGET CUTS THAT THEY HAVE RECEIVED IN THE LAST FEW YEARS. WE'VE ALSO SEEN SOME REPORTS THAT SAY THEY DON'T HANDLE THEIR OWN PURCHASING VERY WELL. SO MAYBE THAT'S A WAY THAT WE CAN POOL SOME OF THOSE RESOURCES TOGETHER TO MAKE THE TAXPAYERS' DOLLAR GO A LITTLE BIT FURTHER.

Yepsen: MR. SPEAKER, AS A PRACTICAL MATTER, PLAYING OFF OF MIKE'S QUESTION HERE, IF YOU TRY TO HOLD EDUCATION RELATIVELY HARMLESS, WHICH IS 60 PERCENT OF THE BUDGET, THEN YOU REALLY ARE -- IN THE OTHER 40 PERCENT, YOU ARE LOOKING AT THE SIZE OF THE STATE'S WORK FORCE, YOU ARE LOOKING AT BIG PROGRAMS LIKE MEDICAID, CORRECT?

Rants: SURE.

Yepsen: YOU HAVE NO OTHER CHOICE. DO THE MATH A LITTLE BIT. WHAT IS THE CONDITION OF THE STATE'S FINANCES? THERE WAS A LOT OF CONFUSION DURING THE CAMPAIGN FOR GOVERNOR ABOUT HOW BIG IS THE DEFICIT AND, YES, IT IS, AND, NO, IT ISN'T. WHAT'S YOUR -- AS YOU WALK IN THIS, WHAT SORT OF SURPLUS DO YOU CARRY OVER, WHAT SORT OF REVENUES DO YOU EXPECT, WHAT SORT OF BUILT-INS DO YOU HAVE? WHAT'S THE SCOPE OF YOUR PROBLEM?

Rants: OUR IMMEDIATE PROBLEM IS $200 MILLION. WE HAVE TO DEAL WITH THE $200-MILLION PROBLEM JUST TO GET BACK TO ZERO. AGAIN, THAT'S ONE-TIME MONEY THAT WE USED FOR SCHOOL AID, STATE EMPLOYEES, AND MEDICAID. WE'VE GOT TO FILL THAT HOLE TO GET US TO ZERO. NOW, WE'VE GOT A LOT OF PAYMENTS, AND WE'RE GOING TO HAVE TO SIT DOWN AND HAVE A VERY HONEST DISCUSSION ABOUT WHAT SORT OF PAYMENT PLAN WE WANT TO PUT THE STATE ON TO BE ABLE TO REPAY THE SENIOR LIVING TRUST FUND, TO REPAY THE TOBACCO ENDOWMENT, AND TO REFILL THE CASH RESERVES IN THE ECONOMIC EMERGENCY FUND. WE USED PRETTY MUCH EVERY SOURCE OF REVENUE WE COULD FIND TO GET THE STATE THROUGH A DIFFICULT FINANCIAL TIME. BUT MOVING AHEAD, WE HAVE THREE MAJOR BUILT-INS, AND THAT IS: EDUCATION; AGAIN, STATE EMPLOYEES; AND MEDICAID. RIGHT NOW IT LOOKS LIKE, IN THIS BUDGET YEAR WE'RE IN, THE '03 BUDGET YEAR, WE COULD COME IN A LITTLE BIT OVER ESTIMATE BY ABOUT $90 MILLION. THAT WOULD BE GREAT. WE WOULD USE THAT BASICALLY TO SHORE UP MEDICAID AND ALLOW SOME OF THAT TO GO BACK IN AND FILL OUR RESERVES SO WE AT LEAST HAVE SOME OPERATING CAPITAL FOR CASH FLOW. BUT WE'VE GOT A BIG QUESTION ABOUT WHAT SORT OF TIMETABLE OR REPAYMENT PLAN WE WANT TO PUT THE STATE ON.

Yepsen: WILL YOU RAISE ANY TAXES?

Rants: NO.

Yepsen: CIGARETTE? SOME STATES ARE RAISING CIGARETTE TAXES?

Rants: YOU KNOW, I HEAR A LOT OF PEOPLE TALKING ABOUT THAT. YOU KNOW WHAT THAT MEANS IN MY COMMUNITY? PEOPLE ARE COMING ACROSS THE BORDER TO BUY THEM IN IOWA, SO WE'RE GOING TO GET MORE TAX REVENUE FROM TOBACCO PRODUCTS WITHOUT RAISING THE TAX RATE AT ALL.

Glover: THERE WAS AN ACTION JUST THIS WEEK BY THE STATE'S BOARD OF REGENTS TO SIGNIFICANTLY INCREASE TUITION AT IOWA'S PUBLIC COLLEGES, THE REGENTS ARGUED BECAUSE OF BUDGET CUTS THEY'VE TAKEN FROM THE STATE. SO WHAT YOU'VE DONE IS YOU'VE TAXED PARENTS AND STUDENTS MORE. WHAT WOULD YOU HAVE DONE HAD YOU BEEN A REGENT?

Rants: IF I WAS A REGENT, I PROBABLY WOULD HAVE LOOKED INSIDE AT THEIR OWN BUDGETING PROCESS BEFORE I LOOKED TO THE STUDENTS AND THE PARENTS FOR MORE. AT THE SAME TIME, YOU'VE GOT REPORTS COMING OUT ABOUT PURCHASING PROBLEMS AT SOME OF OUR SCHOOLS. I THINK THERE ARE SOME WAYS THAT THEY COULD HAVE MANAGED THEIR MONEY A LITTLE BIT BETTER, BUT I'M NOT A REGENT SO THAT'S NOT MY DECISION TO MAKE. I THINK THIS GENERAL ASSEMBLY IS GOING TO TRY TO SHELTER -- AGAIN, WE STARTED OUT BY TRYING TO SHELTER K-12 EDUCATION. AND TO DO THAT -- BECAUSE WE'VE GOT MORE STUDENTS IN THE K-12 SYSTEM THAN THE OTHER SYSTEMS COMBINED, THAT'S WHERE WE PUT OUR DOLLARS FIRST. I THINK THEN NOW IN THIS COMING YEAR, HOPEFULLY WE DON'T HAVE TO MAKE ADDITIONAL REDUCTIONS, BUT PERHAPS WE CAN PROTECT THEM AND THE COMMUNITY COLLEGES AS WELL. THAT'S THE PLACE I'M MORE CONCERNED, TO BE QUITE HONEST, IS COMMUNITY COLLEGES --

Yepsen: WHY?

Rants: -- AND WHAT THEIR TUITIONS ARE LIKE IN RELATION TO THE REST OF THE NATION. THE REGENTS -- NOBODY EVER SAYS COLLEGE IS CHEAP. I'M NOT GOING TO SAY THAT. BUT THE REGENTS AT LEAST, IN COMPARISON TO OTHER SIMILAR SIZED SCHOOLS, IT'S A GOOD VALUE.

Glover: THE BOARD OF REGENTS HAS LONG PROUDLY PROCLAIMED ITS INDEPENDENCE FROM STATE GOVERNMENT WITH THE REGENTS AS AN INDEPENDENT GOVERNING BODY. IS IT TIME FOR THAT SYSTEM TO END? YOU SEEM TO BE SUGGESTING THAT THE REGENTS ARE NOT BEING RUN VERY EFFICIENTLY, THAT THEY SEEM TO BE WASTING SOME MONEY. IS IT TIME TO BRING THE REGENTS MORE CLOSELY UNDER THE CONTROL OF STATE GOVERNMENT?

Rants: I DON'T KNOW HOW STATE GOVERNMENT COULD EVER DO THAT. ONCE YOU LET SOMETHING OUT, IT'S PRETTY TOUGH TO GET IT BACK INTO THE BARN. I AM SUGGESTING, HOWEVER --

Glover: WELL, POLITICALLY IT MAY BE TOUGH BUT --

Rants: BUT PERHAPS WE NEED TO WORK CLOSER TOGETHER WITH THE REGENTS ON A COUPLE OF FRONTS, ON THE PURCHASING AND THE WAY WE HANDLE SOME ADMINISTRATIVE SERVICES FOR STATE GOVERNMENT, BECAUSE THEY ARE PART OF STATE GOVERNMENT. WE ALSO NEED TO WORK MORE COOPERATIVELY WITH THE REGENTS WHEN IT COMES TO ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT.

Yepsen: MR. SPEAKER, YOU MENTIONED A MOMENT AGO THAT IT WOULD BE DIFFICULT FOR THE STATE TO AFFORD $100-MILLION PAY RAISE FOR STATE WORKERS. WHAT CAN THE STATE AFFORD?

Rants: I'M NOT -- DAVID, I'M REALLY NOT SURE ABOUT THAT. YOU KNOW, AFSCME JUST OUTLINED THEIR BARGAINING POSITION JUST THE OTHER DAY. AT FIRST WHEN I HEARD IT AND THEY SAID $35 MILLION IN SALARY AND $10 MILLION IN HEALTH CARE, I THOUGHT, WELL, OKAY. BUT THEN WHEN I LOOK A LITTLE DEEPER INTO THE NUMBERS AND THEY'RE SAYING YOU ALSO HAVE TO APPLY THAT -- ANNUALIZE THAT AND APPLY THAT TO OTHER STATE EMPLOYEES AND THE OTHER BARGAINING UNIONS, IT'S MUCH CLOSER TO $100 MILLION. QUITE FRANKLY, I DON'T KNOW, WHEN YOU'RE LOOKING AT ZERO REVENUE GROWTH, HOW YOU CAN AFFORD THAT.

Glover: YOUR GUBERNATORIAL CANDIDATE RAN ON A PLATFORM OF CALLING FOR A PAY FREEZE FOR STATE WORKERS. WILL THE LEGISLATURE ACT ON THAT?

Rants: WELL, THAT'S THE FIRST STEP. THE PROBLEM THAT WE HAVE IS THAT WE DON'T NEGOTIATE. THAT IS NOT IN THE POWER OF THE LEGISLATURE. ALL WE CAN DO IS APPROPRIATE THE MONEY. AGAIN, I WOULD LIKE TO HAVE A CONVERSATION WITH GOVERNOR VILSACK IN ADVANCE OF THE SESSION. MAYBE THERE ARE SOME WAYS THAT WE CAN WORK COOPERATIVELY ON THAT. I'VE GOT TO BELIEVE THE GOVERNOR IS GOING TO HAVE A TOUGH TIME MAKING THAT FIT IN HIS BUDGET. OVER THE PAST FOUR YEARS, THAT HAS BEEN HIS NUMBER ONE FUNDING PRIORITY. MORE MONEY HAS GONE TO THE STATE EMPLOYEES THAN HAS GONE TO EDUCATION OR ANY OTHER PART OF STATE GOVERNMENT. PERSONALLY I THINK EDUCATION SHOULD BE OUR NUMBER ONE PRIORITY, AND THEN WE'LL SEE WHERE THAT FITS IN.

Borg: AS YOU PASS THE BUDGET FOR THE CURRENT FISCAL YEAR AS WE OPERATE RIGHT NOW, SOME STATE EMPLOYEES ARE TAKING ENFORCED FURLOUGHS IN ORDER TO SAVE MONEY. WILL YOU MAKE THAT TECHNIQUE PERMANENT?

Rants: IT'S INTERESTING, ONE OF THE THINGS AFSCME HAS LAID OUT IS THAT THEY DON'T WANT -- THEY WANT IN THEIR CONTRACT THAT YOU CAN'T DO FURLOUGHS. I'VE NEVER UNDERSTOOD THAT MENTALITY. IF IT WAS ME, I'D RATHER TAKE A 2-PERCENT CUT OR TAKE A DAY OFF RATHER THAN, YOU KNOW, LOSING MY JOB OR SEEING SOMEBODY ELSE IN MY DEPARTMENT OR DIVISION LOSING THEIR JOB. THEY'VE PREFERRED LAYOFFS TO FURLOUGHS, AND I DON'T UNDERSTAND THAT MENTALITY.

Yepsen: ISN'T THAT WHAT SENIORITY MEANS?

Rants: I UNDERSTAND THAT. BUT AS FAR AS PERFORMING THE JOB AND DELIVERING SERVICES TO IOWANS, FURLOUGHS IS A MUCH BETTER ALTERNATIVE TO WHOLESALE LAYOFFS.

Yepsen: THEY INDICATED, THOUGH -- THE UNION INDICATED THAT THEIR PRIORITY HERE WAS TO AVOID LAYOFFS. SO IS IT A FAIR COMPROMISE HERE TO SAY TO THE STATE WORKERS, "WE HAVE TO FREEZE YOUR PAY, BUT IF WE DO THAT, WE'RE NOT GOING TO HAVE TO LAY YOU OFF ANYMORE"?

Rants: THAT WOULD BE A GOOD START.

Glover: YOU MENTIONED THAT THERE ARE A LOT OF NEW MEMBERS IN YOUR CAUCUS. THERE ARE A LOT OF NEW MEMBERS ON THE DEMOCRATIC SIDE OF THE HOUSE CAUCUS. THERE ARE A LOT OF NEW MEMBERS IN THE SENATE. THERE ARE A JUST A LOT OF NEW MEMBERS IN THE LEGISLATURE.

Rants: A COUPLE TOO MANY BUT WE'LL GET ANOTHER SHOT IN TWO YEARS.

Glover: WHAT DOES THAT DO TO THE URBAN/RURAL MIX AT THE LEGISLATURE? I MEAN THIS WAS A REDISTRICTING YEAR. NEW DISTRICTS WERE DRAWN. THE LEGISLATURE -- THOSE DISTRICTS APPEAR TO BE A LITTLE BIT MORE SUBURBAN THAN URBAN. WHAT'S THE MIX, THE RURAL/URBAN FIGHT GOING ON?

Rants: YOU KNOW, I'M HOPEFUL THAT WE CAN AVOID SOME OF THAT THIS YEAR, TO BE HONEST. IF YOU LOOK AT OUR LEADERSHIP TEAM IN THE HOUSE, HOUSE REPUBLICANS, I MEAN I'M CATEGORIZED AS AN URBAN LEGISLATOR. REPRESENTATIVE GIPP, THE NEW MAJORITY LEADER, VERY RURAL. HE'S AS FAR EAST AS YOU CAN GO IN IOWA, AND I'M AS FAR WEST. THE REST OF OUR LEADERSHIP TEAM IS A GOOD BALANCE BETWEEN RURAL AND URBAN. THE MAJORITY WHIP IS URBAN. SPEAKER PRO TEM IS RURAL. AND EVEN WITH OUR ASSISTANT LEADERS, WE'VE GOT A NICE SPLIT. SO I THINK THAT WE CAN -- I'M HOPEFUL THAT WE CAN SMOOTH OVER A LOT OF THOSE PERCEIVED DIFFERENCES.

Glover: WHY? WHY SHOULD WE AVOID THAT RURAL/URBAN FIGHT? ISN'T IT TIME FOR THIS STATE TO HAVE THAT KIND OF A FIGHT?

Rants: IF YOU WANT TO BE COMPLETELY HONEST ABOUT IT, WE'RE ALL RURAL. IT DOESN'T MATTER WHETHER YOU'RE FROM DES MOINES OR YOU'RE FROM SIOUX CITY. THE FIGHT THAT WE ARE IN IS NOT PITTING SIOUX CITY AGAINST OSKALOOSA OR GRINNELL AGAINST WEST DES MOINES. THE FIGHT THAT WE ARE IN -- AND WE HAVE TO REALIZE THIS AS A STATE -- IS IT'S ALL OF US AS IOWANS VERSUS THE CHICAGOS, VERSUS THE KANSAS CITIES, THE MINNEAPOLISES, THE LOS ANGELES, THE PHOENIX. THAT IS THE FIGHT THAT WE'RE IN. WE'RE VIEWED BY THE REST OF THE NATION AS ALL BEING RURAL. WE DON'T HAVE THE TIME, THE RESOURCES, THE PEOPLE, OR THE MONEY TO SPEND FIGHTING AMONGST OURSELVES. WE'VE GOT TO PULL TOGETHER, BECAUSE MY COMMUNITY IN SIOUX CITY CANNOT EXIST WITHOUT A STRONG AND HEALTHY LEMARS OR A STORM LAKE OR A HINTON. LIKEWISE, THEY'RE NOT GOING TO EXIST WITHOUT A STRONG AND HEALTHY SIOUX CITY.

Yepsen: MR. SPEAKER, I HEAR POLITICIANS SAY THAT ALL THE TIME: "OH, WE'RE ALL ONE." AND MAYBE WE ARE BUT THE REALITY IS THAT WE HAVE DISAGREEMENTS OVER WHERE THE ROAD DOLLARS OUGHT TO GO, TO WHEREVER THE MOTORISTS ARE, WHETHER SCALE-AID DOLLARS OUGHT TO GO TO WHERE THE KIDS ARE. HOW WILL THIS LEGISLATURE DEAL WITH THOSE PROBLEMS THAT DO PROVOKE THE URBAN/RURAL FIGHT THAT MIKE IS TALKING ABOUT?

Rants: IT DEPENDS ON THE PROBLEM. AND THOSE THINGS WE'LL HAVE TO SORT OUT, DAVID. I DON'T HAVE A MAGIC ANSWER FOR YOU.

Yepsen: SCHOOL FUNDING -- BIG ARGUMENT IN THIS STATE ABOUT LOCAL OPTION SALES TAX FOR SCHOOLS. RURAL PEOPLE ARE HOT THAT WHEN THEY GO TO URBAN AREAS TO SHOP, THEY LEAVE A PENNY IN SALES TAX. URBAN FOLKS ARE HOT BECAUSE SOME OF THAT STATE AID IS GOING OUT THERE TO SUPPORT A LOT OF THOSE TINY SCHOOLS. HOW DO YOU BROKER THAT ONE?

Rants: MY SUGGESTION ON THE SCHOOL INFRASTRUCTURE IS THAT WE ADOPT MORE OF A CARROT APPROACH RATHER THAN USING A STICK. ONE OF THE BIG HANG-UPS WITH THAT PARTICULAR PROPOSAL IS THAT IT'S THE LEGISLATURE TELLING STATE GOVERNMENT -- OR EXCUSE ME, THE LEGISLATURE TELLING COUNTIES -- IN SOME CASES COUNTIES HAD ACTUALLY VOTED DOWN A LOCAL OPTION SALES TAX FOR SCHOOLS. I HAVE A PROBLEM WITH THAT. BUT YET WE KNOW WE HAVE AN INFRASTRUCTURE PROBLEM IN RURAL IOWA JUST AS WE DO IN URBAN IOWA, SO I WOULD LIKE TO SEE US DEVELOP A POOL THAT COUNTIES ENTER INTO VOLUNTARILY. AND THEN WHEN SCHOOL DISTRICTS OR COUNTIES SUCH AS MINE, WHEN THEIR OPTION EXPIRES FOR US TO RENEW, THEN WE HAVE TO JOIN THE POOL AS WELL. IT WOULD FORCE LOCAL OFFICIALS TO DO SOME PLANNING, TO MAKE SOME DECISIONS, AND TO CONVINCE THE VOTERS THAT THIS IS THE BEST PLAN FOR OUR COMMUNITY OR FOR OUR COUNTY, AND ADOPT IT. YOU MAKE IT VOLUNTARY AND THEN, AS OTHER COUNTIES PARTICIPATE OR RENEW, THEN THEY BECOME PART OF A LARGER POOL AND YOU SPREAD THAT WEALTH AROUND THE STATE.

Borg: YOU FUND THAT POOL BY WHAT?

Rants: IT'S FUNDED LOCALLY WITH SALES TAX DOLLARS, BUT IT'S NOT DICTATED TO -- IT'S NOT THE STATE GOVERNMENT DICTATING TO LOCALS THAT THIS IS WHAT YOU'RE GOING TO DO. IT'S LOCALS DECIDING THAT THIS IS A WAY THAT WE CAN HELP OURSELVES.

Glover: VOTERS ONCE AGAIN IN THIS ELECTION OPTED FOR FAIRLY DIVIDED GOVERNMENT. THERE ARE A LOT OF FAIRLY VOLATILE SOCIAL ISSUES; I'M THINKING ABORTION, REINSTATING THE DEATH SENTENCE, ALL THOSE KINDS OF THINGS. ARE THEY STILL OFF THE TABLE NOW?

Rants: WELL, SOME ARE AND SOME AREN'T.

Glover: WELL, WHICH ARE AND WHICH AREN'T?

Rants: WELL, THE DEATH PENALTY IS GOING TO BE A TOUGH ONE TO PASS. I SAT OVER THERE THREE WEEKS AGO AND TOLD IOWANS THAT IF THEY ELECTED US TO ALL THREE PARTS THAT THAT WOULD BEEN ISSUE THAT WOULD BE DEBATED. I DON'T THINK GOVERNOR VILSACK IS GOING TO CHANGE HIS MIND JUST BECAUSE AN ELECTION PASSED, SO THAT'S GOING TO MAKE THAT ISSUE MUCH MORE DIFFICULT. THERE ARE SOME OTHER ISSUES THAT PROBABLY WILL STILL BE ON THE TABLE BECAUSE THEY'RE IMPORTANT TO IOWANS. AND IF IT'S AN ISSUE THAT'S IMPORTANT TO IOWANS, WE'RE GOING TO DEBATE IT.

Glover: SUCH AS?

Rants: WELL, WE'LL PROBABLY HAVE SOME QUESTIONS, WHETHER IT BE ON WOMEN'S RIGHT TO KNOW, 24-HOUR WAITING PERIOD, PARTIAL-BIRTH ABORTION, THINGS LIKE THAT. SOME OF THOSE THINGS WILL STILL COME BACK BECAUSE THEY ARE IMPORTANT TO IOWANS, AND I DON'T THINK THAT TOM VILSACK IS NECESSARILY OPPOSED TO ALL OF THOSE, BUT WE'LL FIND OUT.

Yepsen: WELL, HE'S VETOED SOME OF THEM A COUPLE OF TIMES.

Rants: WELL, WE'LL FIND OUT. BUT HE'S CHANGED HIS MIND ON SOME ISSUES, DAVID. I DON'T BELIEVE THAT JUST BECAUSE A PERSON VETOES A BILL ONCE, IF YOU MAKE SOME CHANGES, YOU SIT DOWN AND YOU HAVE A DISCUSSION WITH HIM ABOUT WHAT WAS THEIR CAUSE FOR CONCERN, SOMETIMES YOU CAN FIND A WAY TO MOVE THAT FORWARD.

Yepsen: WILL YOU BRING UP A DOVE HUNTING BILL AGAIN?

Rants: THAT'S A CALL FOR THE MAJORITY LEADER TO MAKE.

Yepsen: OH, SO YOU DUCKED THE QUESTION. GO TO THE QUESTION OF ROAD POLICY. WE TALK ABOUT URBAN/RURAL. THERE ARE PEOPLE TRYING TO FIGURE OUT WAYS TO BETTER ALLOCATE THE ROAD FUND. WILL THIS LEGISLATURE TACKLE THE ISSUE OF THE HIGHWAY FUNDING FORMULA?

Rants: IT WILL PROBABLY BE ONE THAT IS PRESENTED TO US, BUT I AM UNSURE YET JUST EXACTLY WHAT THE PLAN IS GOING TO LOOK LIKE. TO BE HONEST, EVEN THOUGH I'M AN URBAN LEGISLATOR, I HAVE A LOT OF CONCERNS WITH WHAT THE URBAN CHAMBER ALLIANCE HAS PROPOSED, MOSTLY BECAUSE OF ITS IMPACT TO ALL OF WESTERN IOWA, INCLUDING MY NECK OF THE WOODS. MY BIGGER CONCERN IS HOW WE TREAT AND FUND OUR PRIMARY HIGHWAY SYSTEM. THAT IS BASICALLY THE ARTERIES THAT KEEP THIS STATE ALIVE AND MOVING. AND THE BIGGER CHALLENGE THAT WE HAVE IS NOT HOW YOU ALLOCATE THOSE RESOURCES, IT'S HOW MUCH MONEY IS IN THE POT.

Glover: YOU'VE INDICATED THAT YOU'RE GRATIFIED THAT VILSACK HAS, ON OCCASION, SIGNALED HE'D LIKE TO REACH OUT TO YOU. WHAT RESPONSIBILITY DO REPUBLICANS IN THE LEGISLATURE HAVE TO REACH OUT TO HIM?

Rants: WE HAVE AN EQUAL RESPONSIBILITY. THAT'S ONE OF THE REASONS I WOULD LIKE TO SIT DOWN AND HAVE SOME OF THESE DISCUSSIONS WITH THE GOVERNOR AHEAD OF TIME. IF WE CAN ISOLATE THOSE DIFFERENCES WE HAVE OR FIND SOME COMMON GROUND ON THE BUDGET -- FOR INSTANCE MEDICAID. WE'RE GOING TO NEED A BIPARTISAN SOLUTION ON MEDICAID, AND WE DON'T NEED TO WAIT UNTIL FEBRUARY TO START HAMMERING IT OUT. WE KNOW WHO THE KEY PLAYERS ARE. THERE'S NO REASON WHY WE CAN'T START SOME OF THAT WORK HERE IN DECEMBER. THAT'S A $100-MILLION PROBLEM THAT EVERYBODY KNOWS IS GOING TO REQUIRE SOME REDUCTION IN EITHER SERVICES PROVIDED OR WHO'S ELIGIBLE.

Glover: MECHANICALLY HOW DO YOU DO IT? RETREAT? MEETINGS?

Rants: I THINK ONE OF THE THINGS THAT WOULD BE HELPFUL -- AND I WAS ENCOURAGED BY THIS SIGNAL FROM THE GOVERNOR -- IS THE GOVERNOR DOESN'T JUST TALK TO THE FOUR LEGISLATIVE LEADERS, THAT WE INVOLVE MORE MEMBERS OF OUR CAUCUS IN THAT. THAT WOULD CERTAINLY BE HELPFUL FOR THE GOVERNOR TO HAVE A BETTER UNDERSTANDING OF WHERE WE ARE AT AS A REPUBLICAN CAUCUS AND HELP OUR MEMBERS UNDERSTAND WHERE THE GOVERNOR IS AT.

Borg: THANK YOU, MR. RANTS. I THINK WE'LL BE TALKING TO YOU FREQUENTLY IN THE NEXT FEW MONTHS.

Rants: ARE WE DONE ALREADY?

Borg: WE ARE. ON OUR NEXT EDITION OF "IOWA PRESS," WE REVIEW THE RESULTS OF THE 2002 ELECTION AND WHAT THOSE RESULTS MIGHT MEAN FOR PUBLIC POLICY AND FUTURE CANDIDATES. JOINING US NEXT WEEK FOR THAT ANALYSIS ARE DES MOINES DEMOCRAT JERRY CRAWFORD AND MONTEZUMA REPUBLICAN MIKE MAHAFFEY. THAT'S NEXT WEEKEND, FRIDAY AT 6:30, SUNDAY AT NOON FOR POLITICAL PERSPECTIVE FROM TWO INSIDERS, JERRY CRAWFORD AND MIKE MAHAFFEY. THAT'S IT FOR THIS WEEKEND'S EDITION OF "IOWA PRESS." I'M DEAN BORG. THANKS FOR JOINING US TODAY.

ANNOUNCER: FUNDING FOR "IOWA PRESS" WAS PROVIDED BY "FRIENDS," THE IOWA PUBLIC TELEVISION FOUNDATION;

BY THE IOWA BANKERS ASSOCIATION... FOR PERSONALS, 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.