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Iowa Press #3015
November 29, 2002

Borg: SIX WEEKS FROM NOW, THE 80TH IOWA GENERAL ASSEMBLY CONVENES. WE'LL PREVIEW THAT SESSION AND ITS PRIORITIES WITH HOUSE MAJORITY LEADER CHUCK GIPP AND MINORITY LEADER RICHARD MYERS 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 29 EDITION OF "IOWA PRESS." HERE IS DEAN BORG.

Borg: MONDAY, JANUARY 13, IS THE DAY FOR THE OPENING GAVEL FOR THE FIRST SESSION OF THE 80TH IOWA GENERAL ASSEMBLY, A SCHEDULED 110-DAY TENURE. AS WITH ITS IMMEDIATE PREDECESSOR, THIS NEW LEGISLATURE WILL STRUGGLE WITH BIG MONEY PROBLEMS. PROJECTED BUDGET DEFICITS APPROACH A HALF BILLION DOLLARS. WITH THE NOVEMBER ELECTION BEHIND US, THERE IS A NEW LOOK, TOO, ON TWO FRONTS. GOVERNOR TOM VILSACK CONTINUES TO SHUFFLE THE DECK, MAKING NEW ASSIGNMENTS IN ADMINISTRATION OF THE EXECUTIVE BRANCH. IN THE LEGISLATIVE BRANCH, BOTH THE MAJORITY REPUBLICANS AND THE MINORITY DEMOCRATS ARE FORGING THEIR NEW AGENDAS. AND WITH 57 NEWCOMERS IN THE IOWA GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF 150, THE DYNAMIC OF NEW IDEAS FROM FRESH TALENT IS ALSO A FACTOR. JOINING US TODAY ARE TWO IOWA STATEHOUSE LEADERS WHO HAVE MAJOR ROLES IN HOW THIS LEGISLATURE PERFORMS. REPRESENTATIVE CHUCK GIPP, REPUBLICAN FROM DECORAH BEGINS HIS SEVENTH TERM IN JANUARY. HOUSE REPUBLICANS HAVE ELECTED HIM THEIR MAJORITY LEADER. REPRESENTATIVE RICHARD MYERS, A DEMOCRAT FROM IOWA CITY, BEGINS HIS SIXTH TERM. HE'S BEEN REELECTED HOUSE MINORITY LEADER BY HIS FELLOW DEMOCRATS. GENTLEMEN, WELCOME TO "IOWA PRESS."

Gipp: THANK YOU VERY MUCH.

Borg: WITH US HERE AT THE "IOWA PRESS" TABLE: "DES MOINES REGISTER" POLITICAL COLUMNIST DAVID YEPSEN AND "ASSOCIATED PRESS" SENIOR LEGISLATIVE REPORTER MIKE GLOVER.

Glover: MR. GIPP, LET'S TALK A LITTLE BIT, BEFORE WE GET TO ISSUES THAT YOU'RE GOING TO FACE, ABOUT THE TENOR AROUND THE STATEHOUSE. IT'S BEEN PRETTY NASTY FOR THE LAST YEAR OR SO. WHAT'S THE TENOR GOING TO BE LIKE WHEN THE LEGISLATURE CONVENES? YOU'VE GOT A REPUBLICAN LEGISLATURE. YOU'VE GOT A DEMOCRATIC GOVERNOR. THEY'VE BEEN RIPPING EACH OTHER'S THROAT OUT FOR THE LAST YEAR. WHAT'S IT GOING TO BE LIKE?

Gipp: WELL, I THINK -- MIKE, I THINK THIS IS A REAL OPPORTUNITY TO CHANGE THAT TENOR. THE PEOPLE OF IOWA SPOKE AND THEY ELECTED GOVERNOR TOM VILSACK TO BE GOVERNOR OF THIS STATE, BUT THEY ALSO AT THE SAME TIME ELECTED THE REPUBLICANS TO MAINTAIN CONTROL OF BOTH THE HOUSE AND SENATE. HOW I VIEW THIS IS A REAL OPPORTUNITY. WE HAVE NEW PEOPLE IN THERE, AND THE VOTERS HAVE SPOKEN. NOW IT'S TIME TO GOVERN THE STATE. THE ELECTION IS OVER AND WE'VE GOT TO GET BEYOND WHAT HAS HAPPENED IN THE PAST AND GO WHAT'S BEST FOR THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE AND GET US OFF THE ZERO GROWTH STATE AND MOVE FORWARD. I THINK WE HAVE THE OPPORTUNITY TO DO THAT.

Glover: MR. MYERS, IT'S HARD FOR A LOT OF US TO ENVISION THIS GROUP OF LEGISLATIVE LEADERS, WHICH IS LARGELY THE SAME GROUP OF LEGISLATIVE LEADERS THAT WAS IN PLACE BEFORE THE ELECTION, ACTUALLY GETTING ALONG WITH THIS GOVERNOR. CONVINCE ME THAT CAN HAPPEN.

Myers: I BELIEVE THAT THERE'S A NEW DAY. WE'VE GOT A NEW, FRESH START WITH A LOT OF NEW PEOPLE. ONE OF THE BEST THINGS THAT I'VE HEARD COMING OUT OF THE ELECTION AFTER REPRESENTATIVE GIPP WAS ELECTED AS THE MAJORITY LEADER, HE SAID IT'S TIME TO GOVERN. I HEARTILY AGREE. THAT DOESN'T MEAN THAT WE'LL ALWAYS AGREE WITH THE GOVERNOR ON THE DEMOCRATIC SIDE, BUT WE'LL DO OUR BEST TO WORK TOGETHER. I THINK THERE'S A CHANCE HERE FOR THAT. AND I THINK THOSE NEW MEMBERS, BY THE WAY, WILL BRING NEW ENERGY TO THE PLACE AND ALSO A LOT OF NEW IDEAS. SO I'M ENCOURAGED ABOUT THAT. I'M OPTIMISTIC ABOUT IT.

Yepsen: MR. GIPP, FIRST OF ALL, CONGRATULATIONS ON YOUR ELECTION AS THE HOUSE MAJORITY LEADER. YOU GET TO GO TO WORK ON THE STATE BUDGET. HOW BAD ARE STATE REVENUES?

Gipp: STATE REVENUES -- THERE'S ONE GOOD ASPECT OF THE CURRENT STATE BUDGET THAT'S COMING UP, AND THAT IS THAT I THINK THIS IS THE FIRST TIME IN A COUPLE YEARS THAT WE WILL NOT HAVE TO IMMEDIATELY DEAL WITH THE DEAPPROPRIATION BILL, SO THAT'S THE GOOD NEWS. THE BAD NEWS IS THAT THE BUDGET SITUATION IS NOT MUCH BETTER THAN IT HAS BEEN FOR THE LAST COUPLE OF YEARS. ONE OF THE OTHER GOOD PIECES THAT I DON'T THINK THAT WE'RE GOING TO SEE A CONSISTENT NUMBER TO DEAL WITH WHEN WE PUT OUR BUDGET TOGETHER. WE'RE NOT GOING TO HAVE TO REACT TO CONTINUED FALLING REVENUES, SO WE'RE HAVING STABLE. SO WITH THAT BEING SAID, WE HAVE, YOU KNOW, IN THE CAMPAIGNS THAT WE'RE TALKING ABOUT, AS MUCH AS A BILLION-DOLLAR DEFICIT AND ALL THAT KIND OF STUFF. I THINK WHAT WE DO HAVE IS WE HAVE ABOUT A STRUCTURAL $400-MILLION-PLUS PROBLEM THAT WE HAVE TO DEAL WITH, WITH ONE-TIME EXPENDITURES AND OTHER THINGS.

Yepsen: MR. MYERS, DO YOU AGREE WITH THAT, $400-MILLION PROBLEM.

Myers: YES, I DO AGREE WITH IT, APPROXIMATELY THAT AMOUNT OF MONEY. I'M INTERESTED IN WHAT THE R.E.C. REPORT WILL COME OUT --

Yepsen: REVENUE ESTIMATING CONFERENCE.

Myers: -- REVENUE ESTIMATING CONFERENCE WILL COME OUT AND SAY IN DECEMBER. I HOPE THAT WE GET AS ACCURATE A NUMBER AS POSSIBLE. ONE OF THE THINGS THAT HAPPENED LAST YEAR, I THOUGHT, WAS THE NUMBERS KEPT CHANGING. AND I QUITE AGREE THAT WE NEED A DEFINITE POSITION TO START FROM. ALSO ONE MORE THING: WE NEED TO START ON THE BUDGET RIGHT AWAY, INSTEAD OF -- THE LAST SESSION WE WAITED SEVEN WEEKS. AND I AM PLEASED TO SEE THAT REPRESENTATIVE GIPP HAS INDICATED THAT THE APPROPRIATION SUBCOMMITTEE HEARINGS WILL START RIGHT AWAY.

Yepsen: MR. GIPP, JUST SO OUR VIEWERS ARE CLEAR WHEN WE SAY THERE'S A $400-MILLION PROBLEM, YOU'RE TALKING ABOUT IN THE BUDGET OF FISCAL 2004, YOU FACE A SHORTFALL OF $400 MILLION BASED UPON WHAT YOU EXPECT TO GET VERSUS WHAT YOU EXPECT TO HAVE TO PAY OUT.

Gipp: AND THAT'S CORRECT. THAT'S BECAUSE WE HAVE BUILT-IN EXPENDITURES ALREADY. THE THREE LARGEST OF THOSE IS THE MEDICAID SITUATION, WHICH IS BASICALLY OUT OF OUR CONTROL. WE ALSO HAVE THE COLLECTIVE BARGAINING AGREEMENT THAT'S GOING TO COME UP THAT'S GOING TO TAKE AN INORDINATE AMOUNT OF MONEY. AND WE ALSO HAVE K-12 EDUCATION WHICH, EVEN AT 2 PERCENT, IS $52 MILLION. SO YOU ADD ALL THOSE THINGS UP, AND THAT'S ABOUT $200 MILLION RIGHT THERE. AND YOU'LL NOTICE WE ALSO HAVEN'T SAID ANYTHING ABOUT JUDICIAL BRANCH, WE HAVEN'T TALKED ABOUT ENVIRONMENT, WE HAVEN'T TALKED ABOUT HUMAN SERVICES, WE HAVEN'T TALKED ABOUT CORRECTIONS OR ANYTHING LIKE THAT. SO THAT'S -- OR HIGHER EDUCATION. SO WE HAVE A REAL PROBLEM THERE. THE OTHER PART OF THAT $400-MILLION PROBLEM IS THAT LAST YEAR WE HAD $211 MILLION COMING OUT OF ONE-TIME SOURCES OF MONEY, WHICH ARE NOW BUILT INTO THE BUDGET. SO THAT MEANS YOU HAVE TO FIND NEW REVENUES TO REPLACE THOSE, BECAUSE A LOT OF THOSE ONE-TIME SOURCES ARE EXPENDED.

Glover: MR. GIPP, OBVIOUSLY YOU HAVE A BUDGET PROBLEM IN THE SESSION THAT'S ABOUT TO BEGIN. ARE TAXES OFF THE TABLE? IS TAX INCREASES OFF THE TABLE? AND IF THEY ARE -- WHICH I ASSUME THAT'S WHAT YOU'RE GOING TO SAY -- WHERE DO YOU GO TO LOOK FOR CUTTING?

Gipp: WELL, ACTUALLY, YES, I THINK THEY ARE OFF THE TABLE; AND THAT'S BECAUSE THE GOVERNOR HAS INDICATED IN HIS CAMPAIGN THAT THAT WAS NOT AN OPTION THAT WE'RE GOING TO HAVE. BOTH THE REPUBLICANS AND THE DEMOCRATS IN THE CAMPAIGNS HAVE SAID THAT'S NOT AN OPTION AS WELL. SO WHAT WE DO NEED TO DO IS WE NEED TO MAKE REVENUES MEET EXPENDITURES. HOW YOU DO THAT IS WHAT THE FUNCTION OF THIS LEGISLATIVE SESSION IS GOING TO BE ABOUT.

Glover: WHERE DO YOU LOOK FOR CUTS?

Gipp: WHAT WE NEED TO DO IS WE NEED TO DECIDE WHAT STATE GOVERNMENT ACTION SHOULD BE INVOLVED IN. WE NEED TO PRIORITIZE JUST LIKE FAMILIES DO: THIS IS WHAT STATE GOVERNMENT STATUTORILY OR CONSTITUTIONALLY NEEDS TO BE INVOLVED IN. IF YOU LOOK AT IT THAT WAY AND THEN MAKE -- NUMBER THOSE, PUBLIC SAFETY IS A PRIMARY FUNCTION OF STATE GOVERNMENT. EDUCATION IS A PRIMARY FUNCTION OF STATE GOVERNMENT. AS YOU GO DOWN THAT LIST, YOU GET LESS AND LESS PRIORITIES AND, ALBEIT, GOOD STUFF. WE'RE GOING TO HAVE TO ELIMINATE SOME THINGS.

Glover: LET'S GET TO THE BOTTOM OF THE LIST.

Gipp: EXACTLY.

Glover: NAME THOSE.

Gipp: WE DON'T -- WE HAVE NOT DEALT WITH -- THE PROGRAM ELIMINATION COMMISSION IS GOING TO MAKE SOME RECOMMENDATIONS. OUR CAUCUS MEMBERS NEED TO BE ABLE TO DO THEIR COMMITTEE WORK AND FIND OUT WHAT THOSE ISSUES ARE. IT'S GOING TO BE DIFFICULT WORK BUT OUR COMMITTEE PROCESS AND OUR CAUCUS IS GOING TO HAVE TO DO THAT HARD WORK AND IDENTIFY WHAT THOSE THINGS ARE THAT WE ARE CURRENTLY DOING THAT WAS BUILT INTO OUR BUDGET WHEN WE HAD LOTS OF REVENUE WHICH WE NO LONGER SHOULD BE INVOLVED WITH, AND THEN SIMPLY ELIMINATE THEM TO ALLOW THE REVENUES TO GO WHERE WE NEED TO GO.

Glover: MR. MYERS, THE SAME QUESTION TO YOU. ARE TAXES OFF THE TABLE? AND IF THEY ARE, WHERE DO YOU LOOK FOR CUTS?

Myers: WELL, FIRST OF ALL, I THINK AS MR. GIPP SAID, YOU HAVE TO ESTABLISH PRIORITIES, AND WE DID. WE SAID THAT EDUCATION WAS A PRIORITY. PUBLIC SAFETY IS CERTAINLY A PRIORITY. WE'VE SAID THAT IN THE CAMPAIGN. WE'LL BE SAYING THAT AGAIN THIS SESSION. BUT I ALSO WOULD POINT OUT THIS: REGARDLESS OF THE TALK ABOUT WHETHER THERE'S SO MUCH MONEY AVAILABLE OR NOT, WE FOUND TIME LAST YEAR -- OR FOUND RESOURCES LAST YEAR TO CUT SOME TAXES IN A COUPLE AREAS. AND SOMEHOW IF YOU HAVE A SHORTFALL OF MONEY, WHY ARE YOU FINDING MONEY TO CUT TAXES? TO ME, I THINK WE NEED TO LIVE WITHIN OUR MEANS. AND BY THE WAY, I WANT TO RESTORE THE PROPERTY TAX CREDITS THAT WERE TAKEN AWAY -- WERE NOT FUNDED, RATHER, IN THE LAST SESSION. I WANT TO RESTORE THAT MONEY AS SOON AS POSSIBLE.

Yepsen: SO YOU JUST ENDORSED ANOTHER SPENDING PROGRAM.

Myers: I'VE ENDORSED AN OBLIGATION THAT IS IN THE LAW, AND I THINK WE NEED TO MEET THAT OBLIGATION TO LOW INCOME PEOPLE AND TO VETERANS AND HOMEOWNERS.

Yepsen: WHAT ABOUT, MR. MYERS, THE ISSUE THAT I'VE HEARD SOME PEOPLE TALKING ABOUT, WHICH IS SORT OF A BACK-DOOR TAX INCREASE CALLED EXPANDING THE BASE OF THE TAX? IN OTHER WORDS, WE'RE NOT GOING TO RAISE THE SALES TAX IN THIS SESSION OF THE LEGISLATURE, BUT YOU WILL FIND MORE THINGS TO TAX, LIKE TRY TO PUT IT ON LEGAL BILLS OR SOMETHING LIKE THAT. IS THAT A GAME THE LEGISLATURE IS GOING TO GET INTO?

Myers: WELL, I THINK OUR SALES TAX FORMULAS OR CODE, IF YOU WILL, IS A HODGEPODGE OF WHOEVER SPEAKS LOUDEST AT THE PRESENT TIME. I THINK WE NEED TO TAKE A LOOK AT THAT WHOLE THING AND OVERHAUL IT.

Yepsen: ARE YOU GOING TO DO A BACK-DOOR TAX INCREASE, MR. GIPP?

Gipp: NOT THAT WE'RE AWARE OF BUT YOU ALSO HAVE TO UNDERSTAND THAT'S ALREADY OCCURRING. THE DEPARTMENT OF REVENUE AND FINANCE IS ALREADY SEEKING OUT WAYS UNDER THE CURRENT TAX CODE TO EXPAND THE TAXATION. ONE OF THOSE ISSUES WE JUST DISCOVERED THE OTHER DAY -- WE WERE ON THE BANKERS ROAD SHOW -- AND THE DEPARTMENT OF REVENUE AND FINANCE IS NOW ENACTING A SALES TAX ON THE SURCHARGES ON ATM TRANSACTIONS, AND THAT'S AN EXPANSION OF THE TAX. ALSO RUN INTO A MUSEUM WHERE THEY WERE DOING THIS WITH AMATEUR ARTISTS, PUTTING A SALES TAX --

Glover: SO YOU ARE GOING TO TAKE A LOOK AT WHO GETS TAXED UNDER THE SALES TAX.

Gipp: WELL, I THINK THAT'S SOMETHING THAT ACTUALLY HAS TO DO. BUT WHEN WE TALK ABOUT TAX REDUCTIONS AS OCCURRED IN THE PAST, I THINK IF YOU DO ANY TAX REDUCTIONS, IT'S GOT TO BE WITH THAT GUIDEPOST IN MIND THAT IS THIS GOING TO MAKE US A MORE BUSINESS-FRIENDLY STATE TO ATTRACT THE TYPE OF JOBS WE'RE GOING TO DO.

Borg: MR. GIPP, YOU MENTIONED A MOMENT AGO THE PROGRAM ELIMINATION COMMISSION. THAT'S A FAIRLY DRACONIAN, THREATENING TITLE. HOW SERIOUSLY ARE YOU GOING TO LOOK AT THAT REPORT?

Gipp: WELL, WE ABSOLUTELY HAVE TO LOOK AT THAT REPORT. IT HAS TO BE SERIOUS. IT WAS A SERIOUS ATTEMPT TO DO IT, AND IT WAS ALSO ACKNOWLEDGING THE FACT THAT POLITICALLY WE'VE HAD LEGISLATORS IN THE PAST THAT WEREN'T ABLE TO MAKE THOSE CUTS BECAUSE THE CONSTITUENCY GROUPS IT MAYBE IMPACTED. AND SO IT WAS SET UP WITH THE IDEA, SIMILAR TO THE BASE CLOSING COMMISSION THAT CONGRESS ESTABLISHED YEARS AGO, TO TAKE OUT THE PAROCHIALISM OF INDIVIDUAL LEGISLATORS TO DO THAT. WILL THEY BE ABLE TO COME UP WITH POSSIBLE CUTS IN SAVINGS IN THE SHORT TIME THAT THEY WERE ABLE TO FUNCTION? I DON'T THINK THAT THEY'RE GOING TO BE ABLE TO COME UP WITH THE SAVINGS THAT WE THOUGHT THEY WERE HOPING THEY WERE GOING TO BE, MOSTLY BECAUSE OF THE TIME LINE.

Borg: MR. MYERS, FROM WHAT YOU'VE SEEN --

Myers: WELL, I AGREE WITH MR. GIPP WHEN HE TALKS ABOUT THE AMOUNT OF MONEY PROBABLY WILL NOT BE REALIZED THAT WAS FORECAST. I THINK IT WAS $100 MILLION, SOMETHING LIKE THAT. BUT REGARDLESS, I WOULDN'T LOOK FOR $100- OR $200- OR $400-MILLION ANSWERS. I BELIEVE THERE ARE SOME $20-MILLION AND $30-MILLION ANSWERS, AND WE NEED TO LOOK AT THAT. AND THAT PROGRAM ELIMINATION COMMISSION, I THINK, HAS ALREADY STARTED US DOWN THAT PATH. ONE THING I WILL MENTION THAT I THINK IT'S HIGH TIME WE DO REGARDLESS OF THE MONEY SITUATION IS THIS WHOLE BUSINESS ABOUT MAXIMUM SENTENCING AND WHAT IT'S DOING TO OUR PRISON SYSTEM AND THE PRESSURE IT'S PUTTING ON THE STATE BUDGET. IT'S TIME THAT WE TOOK A SERIOUS, MEANINGFUL LOOK AT WHAT THAT'S COSTING THE STATE.

Yepsen: THAT IS -- MR. MYERS, THAT IS ONE OF THE THINGS THAT THE PROGRAM ELIMINATION COMMISSION IS LOOKING AT.

Myers: THAT'S RIGHT.

Yepsen: THE QUESTION IS TO YOU, MR. GIPP, IS THAT SOMETHING THE LEGISLATURE WILL DO? IN THE PAST REPUBLICANS RUNNING THE LEGISLATURE HAVE NOT WANTED TO GET INTO SENTENCING REFORM BECAUSE IT LOOKS TOO MUCH LIKE YOU'RE SOFT ON CRIMINALS. YOU'RE BASICALLY TALKING ABOUT EASING SENTENCES ON PROPERTY OFFENSES AND DRUG CRIMES. WILL THE LEGISLATURE GO ALONG WITH THAT?

Gipp: UNDER MY ENCOURAGEMENT, WE WILL LOOK AT THAT BECAUSE WE HAVE TO LOOK AT THAT. IF WE'RE GOING TO ALLOW FOR PUBLIC SAFETY AND EDUCATION EXPENSES, WE HAVE TO BE ABLE TO ALLOW THE DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS TO FUNCTION PROPERLY, AND THEY CAN'T DO IT BY PUTTING THAT MANY NEW PEOPLE INTO PRISON AND HAVING NO PLACE TO PUT THEM. SO WE HAVE TO DO THAT. WE HAVE TO PUT JUDGMENT BACK INTO THE JUDICIAL PROCESS.

Glover: LET'S CHANGE THE POLITICS OF ALL THIS, BECAUSE THAT'S NOT BEEN THE ARGUMENT FOR THE LAST TEN, FIFTEEN YEARS.

Gipp: WELL, SOME OF THE PEOPLE IN CHARGE AT THAT TIME WERE AFRAID THAT IT WOULD BE SOFT ON CRIME, LOOKING LIKE THAT. THE POLITICAL REALITY AND THE FINANCIAL REALITY SAYS WE HAVE TO LOOK AT THAT.

Myers: WE HAVE TO LOOK AT WHAT WORKS AS FAR AS INCARCERATION IS CONCERNED. AND I ALSO WOULD NOTE THAT THE JUDICIAL REFORM STARTED REALLY A COUPLE TERMS AGO; WE JUST REALLY HAVEN'T TAKEN THE BIG STEPS THAT ARE NECESSARY.

Glover: ANOTHER RECOMMENDATION THAT COMMISSION IS GOING TO COME UP WITH, IN ALL PROBABILITY, IS SOME KIND OF AN INCENTIVE TO CONVINCE LOCAL SCHOOLS, SMALL LOCAL SCHOOLS TO MERGE. THAT'S BEEN RADIOACTIVE FOR YEARS. WILL THE LEGISLATURE WADE INTO THAT?

Myers: WELL, WHEN LOCAL GOVERNMENTS CONSOLIDATE, IT IS BECAUSE OF ECONOMIC CIRCUMSTANCES, NOT POLITICAL CIRCUMSTANCES. IT'S ALWAYS OPPOSED BECAUSE OF POLITICS BUT, IN FACT, ECONOMICS WILL DRIVE THAT EQUATION. AND IF THE ECONOMICS GETS SO BAD THAT THESE SCHOOL DISTRICTS, FOR THAT MATTER, A SMALL COMMUNITY CANNOT FUNCTION, CANNOT PERFORM THEIR FUNCTION, THE ECONOMICS OF THE SITUATION WILL DRIVE CONSOLIDATION.

Glover: MR. GIPP, THE SAME QUESTION TO YOU. ARE YOU GOING TO WADE INTO THE ISSUE OF CONSOLIDATING LOCAL SCHOOLS?

Gipp: WE ALREADY DID. THERE'S TWO THINGS THAT ARE ON -- THAT ARE CURRENTLY IN LAW THAT WERE DONE IN PAST SESSIONS. ONE IS THE PHASEOUT OF THE BUDGET GUARANTEE, WHICH WILL CAUSE THIS TO HAVE TO HAPPEN BECAUSE THE ECONOMICS WILL DICTATE THAT. THE SECOND THING WE DID IS WE PUT INTO PLACE CONSOLIDATION INCENTIVES FOR SCHOOL DISTRICTS UNDER 600. NOW, THAT IS SOMETHING THAT WE NEED TO REVISIT BECAUSE ONLY THE DISTRICT THAT HAS UNDER 600 ACTUALLY GETS THE INCENTIVE. IF YOU'RE BEING -- POTENTIAL GRADE SHARING TO CONSOLIDATION WITH THE SCHOOL OVER THAT NUMBER, THE RECEIVING DISTRICT, OR THE OTHER DISTRICT, DOESN'T GET IT. AND THAT'S AN INEQUITY THAT'S CURRENTLY IN THERE, SO WE WILL GO BACK AND LOOK AT THAT. IT'S ONE THING THAT'S PARTICULARLY IMPORTANT IN MY DISTRICT. IF YOU WANT TO GET PAROCHIAL, IT'S IMPORTANT IN MY DISTRICT BECAUSE WE HAVE A SCHOOL -- POTENTIAL SCHOOL CONSOLIDATION OCCURRING THERE WITH NORTH WINNESHIEK AND DECORAH.

Yepsen: WELL, TO THAT POINT, MR. GIPP, I MEAN YOU'RE A RULE LEGISLATOR FROM NORTHEAST IOWA. DO PEOPLE IN RURAL IOWA NOW THINK DIFFERENTLY ABOUT THIS ISSUE OF MERGING SCHOOLS? FOR ALL YOU'VE DONE, WE'VE STILL GOT ABOUT 300 SOME SCHOOL SUPERINTENDENTS IN THIS STATE. ARE RURAL IOWANS WILLING TO GET RID OF THEIR LOCAL SCHOOL SUPERINTENDENT TO MERGE THESE TINY SCHOOLS NOW?

Gipp: AT THIS POINT, NO, I DON'T THINK THAT THEY ARE. I DON'T THINK THEY'VE CHANGED THEIR MIND IN THAT BECAUSE IT'S ALWAYS BEEN THAT THE SCHOOLHOUSE MEANS THAT MY COMMUNITY IS STILL VIABLE. BUT THE ECONOMICS OF THE SITUATION ARE MUCH DIFFERENT THAN THEY HAVE BEEN IN THE PAST, AND THIS WILL FORCE THEM TO RETHINK ABOUT WHETHER THEY CAN PROVIDE FOR AN EDUCATION FOR THOSE STUDENTS, WHETHER IN SMALL DISTRICTS OR BIGGER DISTRICTS. AND THEY'LL HAVE TO DO THAT BECAUSE OF THE ECONOMICS OF IT.

Myers: ANOTHER IMPORTANT PART OF THAT WHOLE THING IS THE QUALITY OF EDUCATION. AND PARENTS, IF THEY'RE SATISFIED WITH THE QUALITY OF EDUCATION IN THOSE SMALLER DISTRICTS, THEY'LL WANT TO MAINTAIN THEM. IF THEY'RE NOT, THEY'LL WANT TO CHANGE.

Yepsen: ANOTHER HOT ISSUE OUT THERE IN RURAL IOWA IS SOMETHING THAT SENTENCING -- THIS PROGRAM ELIMINATION COMMISSION IS LOOKING AT AND THAT IS RESTRUCTURING THE COURT SYSTEM. WHEN THE CHIEF JUSTICE TRIED THAT A YEAR AGO, HE RAN INTO A BUZZ SAW. MR. GIPP, IS THAT GOING TO HAPPEN IN THIS SESSION BECAUSE OF ECONOMIC REALITIES?

Gipp: WELL, WE'VE SEEN A LOT OF ATTEMPTS, INCLUDING THE COURTS, TO RESTRUCTURE THEIR BUSINESSES. THE COMMON DENOMINATOR, WHETHER IT WAS THE DEPARTMENT OF NATURAL RESOURCES, THE D.O.T., OR THE COURT SYSTEMS, OR DHS, IS THAT I DON'T THINK THAT THE PEOPLE AT THE TOP ACTUALLY GOT ENOUGH INPUT FROM THE PEOPLE THAT WORK IN THOSE AGENCIES. AND I'VE NEVER -- I'VE NEVER TALKED WITH A STATE OFFICIAL -- OR A STATE EMPLOYEE THAT DIDN'T THINK THERE COULDN'T BE CHANGES. SO I THINK WHAT THE CHIEF NEEDS TO DO AND THE JUDICIAL BRANCH IN PARTICULAR IS THEY NEED IT TALK WITH THE PEOPLE THAT ARE IN THE CLERK OF COURT'S OFFICE AND FIND OUT WHERE THERE CAN BE SAVINGS IN RESTRUCTURINGS TAKE PLACE THAT MAKES THE WHOLE SYSTEM MORE EFFICIENT, AND THAT HAS TO TAKE PLACE.

Glover: ANOTHER ISSUE THAT THEY'RE GOING TO RECOMMEND IS RESTRUCTURING AEAs, MR. MYERS.

Myers: YES.

Glover: THEY'RE TALKING ABOUT LAYERS OF EDUCATION BUREAUCRACY. IS THERE ROOM FOR CHANGE THERE?

Myers: WELL, I CERTAINLY THINK IT NEEDS TO BE EXAMINED. I HEAR ABOUT GOOD AEAs AND ONES THAT ARE NOT SO EFFECTIVE. I THINK WE'RE OPEN TO ALL KINDS OF SUGGESTIONS ON THIS. YOU KNOW, WE SHOULDN'T BE AFRAID OF CHANGE. AND IF SOMETIMES CHANGE DELIVERS SERVICE BETTER OR IF IT WILL COST LESS, THEN WE SHOULD BE WILLING TO TAKE A LOOK AT THAT AND MAKE A -- I THINK AN OBJECTIVE EXAMINATION OF IT.

Glover: MR. GIPP, THE COMMON THEME I HEAR RUNNING THROUGH ALMOST EVERYTHING YOU'RE SAYING WHEN YOU LOOK AT THESE SORTS OF CHANGES IS THAT WHATEVER THE POLITICS OF THE ISSUE, THE ECONOMICS HAVE SIMPLY ESCALATED TO THE POINT WHERE THINGS THAT WERE PREVIOUSLY UNTHINKABLE ARE NOW THINKABLE AND PROBABLY GOING TO HAPPEN. IS THAT --

Gipp: WELL, I THINK THAT'S FAIR TO SAY, BECAUSE EVERYBODY FINALLY REALIZES THAT IOWA IS LAGGING BEHIND THE REST OF THE STATES AROUND US AND THERE ARE YOUNG PEOPLE THAT ARE LEAVING THE STATE. NOW, MY FAMILY IS IN THAT SAME SITUATION. MY SON AND DAUGHTER NOW ARE 24 AND 22, AND THEY'VE GOT JOBS. THEY GRADUATED FROM COLLEGE BUT, UNFORTUNATELY, THE TAXES THEY'RE PAYING ARE TO THE STATE OF MINNESOTA. AND SO I'VE GOT A PERSONAL INTEREST IN THIS TO ALLOW IOWA -- TO GET IOWA BACK TO BEING A GROWTH STATE RATHER THAN A NONGROWTH STATE SO THOSE YOUNG PEOPLE, WHEN THEY WANT TO, CAN COME BACK TO THIS STATE.

Yepsen: MR. GIPP, WE HAVE A LOT OF STATE EMPLOYEES WHO WATCH THIS PROGRAM THAT LIKE TO KNOW WHAT THE BOARD OF DIRECTORS IS GOING TO DO TO THEM OR FOR THEM. DO STATE EMPLOYEES HAVE TO WORRY ABOUT MORE LAYOFFS EITHER THIS YEAR IN FISCAL '03, WHICH ENDS IN JUNE, OR IN FISCAL '04, WHICH IS THE YEAR YOU'LL MAKE A BUDGET? ARE WE DONE WITH LAYOFFS IN STATE GOVERNMENT?

Gipp: I DON'T KNOW IF WE ARE NOT OR NOT, DAVID. I CAN'T TELL YOU WHETHER WE ARE OR NOT. BUT IF -- WHAT I DO KNOW IS THERE'S ONLY SO MUCH MONEY FOR SALARY INCREASES IN THE COLLECTIVE BARGAINING AGREEMENT. IF THE AGREEMENT COMES TO THE POINT WHERE WE CAN'T FULLY FUND IT AND STILL, AT THE SAME TIME, MEET OUR OBLIGATIONS TO MEDICAID AND EDUCATION, THEN WHAT BASICALLY HAPPENS IS WE FUND THE SALARY BILL FOR THOSE THAT SURVIVE AND THE REST OF THEM LOSE THEIR JOBS.

Yepsen: WHAT DO YOU THINK OF THAT, MR. MYERS? DO YOU THINK YOU'RE DONE WITH LAYOFFS OR MORE IN THE OFFING HERE?

Myers: WELL, I HOPE WE'RE DONE WITH LAYOFFS. I DON'T KNOW HOW THE COLLECTIVE BARGAINING AGREEMENT WILL COME OUT, BUT IF IT'S SETTLED AT ONE PERCENT, I THINK IT WOULD COST AROUND $41 MILLION TO THE STATE BUDGET, WHICH SEEMS ENTIRELY IN LINE WITH SOME OF THE PREVIOUS SETTLEMENTS, IN FACT MUCH LESS. BUT I WILL SAY THIS MUCH: YOU KNOW, WE HAVE, I THINK, IT'S 17 OR 18 PEOPLE ON DUTY AT NIGHT IN ONE OF OUR MAJOR PRISONS IN THE STATE WHEN THE TABLE OF ORGANIZATION CALLS FOR 37. WE HAVE GOT TO FACE UP TO THE RESPONSIBILITY IF THOSE THINGS NEED TO BE STAFFED.

Yepsen: AND TO THAT SPECIFIC POINT, WILL THE LEGISLATURE PROVIDE A SUPPLEMENTAL APPROPRIATION THIS YEAR OUT OF THE SURPLUS THAT YOU'RE GOING TO HAVE AT THE END OF '03 TO FUND MORE CORRECTIONAL OFFICERS IN PRISON SYSTEMS? I MEAN THAT'S A PUBLIC SAFETY ISSUE.

Myers: THAT IS A PUBLIC SAFETY ISSUE, AND I THINK IT SHOULD BE A PRIORITY. WE ARGUED THAT ALL THROUGH THE FALL. BUT I WILL SAY THIS MUCH: IF THE MAJORITY PARTY FINDS SOLUTIONS AND THEY NEED OUR HELP TO MAKE THOSE SOLUTIONS WORK, AS FAR AS PUBLIC SAFETY IS CONCERNED AND FUNDING EDUCATION, WE'RE WILLING TO WORK TOGETHER.

Yepsen: MR. GIPP, WILL YOU GIVE THE DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS A SUPPLEMENT?

Gipp: WE NEED TO SERIOUSLY LOOK AT THAT BECAUSE THEY'RE SEVERELY UNDERSTAFFED IN CERTAIN LOCATIONS AND IT'S BECOMING A PUBLIC SAFETY ISSUE AND IT'S BECOMING A CORRECTIONAL OFFICER SAFETY ISSUE. BUT THE THING THAT WE DO HAVE IS WE HAVE AN ENDING BALANCE PROJECTED ABOUT $100 MILLION, BUT WE HAVE A MEDICAID SITUATION, WHICH NOW HAS WENT FROM PROJECTED AT $30 MILLION PROBABLY SUPPLEMENTAL APPROPRIATION TO A $60 MILLION, AND YESTERDAY I HEARD IT MAY BE $76 MILLION.

Yepsen: WHAT'S THE COST OF A PRISON RIOT IF YOU DON'T DO IT, MR. GIPP?

Gipp: THAT'S CORRECT. IT'S A DISASTER THAT WE DON'T WANT TO BE A PART OF. SO WE NEED TO BE ABLE TO LOOK AT THAT, BUT WE'RE ALSO GOING TO BE LIMITED ON WHERE WE CAN GO.

Glover: DO YOU HAVE A NUMBER YOU CAN PUT ON IT?

Gipp: NO, I DO NOT HAVE A NUMBER.

Borg: YOU MENTIONED MEDICAID. HOW ARE YOU GOING TO DEAL WITH THAT? ARE YOU GOING TO CUT BENEFITS, CUT THE NUMBER OF PEOPLE RECEIVING MEDICAID?

Gipp: THE REALITY IS THAT A FEW YEARS AGO, THE K-12 EDUCATION SYSTEM WAS TAKEN OFF OF AUTOMATIC PILOT AND THE CHAIRMAN OF THE APPROPRIATIONS COMMITTEE AT THAT TIME ALLOWED IT TO GO OFF AUTOMATIC PILOT BECAUSE K-12 EDUCATION WAS GOING TO TAKE ALL THE NEW MONEY AVAILABLE AND THERE WAS NOT GOING TO BE ANY MONEY AVAILABLE FOR THE HUMAN SERVICES ISSUES THAT HE ENJOYED AT THAT TIME OR WANTED TO FUND AT THAT TIME. NOW IT'S THE REVERSE OF THAT SITUATION, WHERE THE MEDICAL ASSISTANCE PROGRAM, OR MEDICAID PROGRAM, IS TAKING ALL THE NEW MONEY AND THERE'S NO MONEY LEFT OVER FOR EDUCATION. SO IF WE DON'T DO SOMETHING ABOUT BRINGING MEDICAID COSTS UNDER CONTROL AND WORK TOGETHER TO GET THAT DONE THROUGH THE GOVERNOR'S OFFICE, THE MINORITY, AND THE REPUBLICANS, WE ARE NOT GOING TO HAVE THE MONEY TO FUND ANYTHING ELSE IN STATE GOVERNMENT. SO IT ABSOLUTELY HAS TO HAPPEN.

Borg: WHAT WILL THE DEMOCRATS CONTRIBUTE TO THAT DISCUSSION?

Myers: WELL, CERTAINLY THERE'S SOME BASIC SERVICES THAT WE WANT TO KEEP IN PLACE. WE WILL FIGHT THOSE KINDS OF CUTS, LIKE PRESCRIPTION DRUG COSTS AND THINGS OF THAT NATURE. BUT THERE ARE ALSO OPTIONAL SERVICES THAT I THINK NEED TO HAVE -- TO HAVE SOME EXAMINATION.

Glover: MR. GIPP, A GROUP OF BUSINESS LEADERS FROM 17 OF IOWA'S LARGEST CITIES CAME INTO TOWN JUST THE OTHER DAY, AND THEY SAID IT'S TIME FOR THIS LEGISLATURE TO REVISIT THE WAY WE FINANCE HIGHWAY CONSTRUCTION REPAIRS IN THIS STATE, SHIFTING MORE MONEY TO URBAN AREAS, TAKING IT AWAY FROM RURAL AREAS. YOU'RE A RURAL LEGISLATOR. HOW FAR DOES THAT IDEA GO WITH YOU?

Gipp: WELL, ACTUALLY WHAT HAPPENED IN CONJUNCTION WITH THAT IS THERE WAS A TASK FORCE PUT TOGETHER THAT LOOKED AT THAT WHOLE ISSUE ABOUT THIS COMMON THEME THAT WE'RE BUILDING ROADS FROM NOWHERE TO NOWHERE OUT IN THE COUNTY AREAS. BUT WHAT THEY'RE ACTUALLY FINDING AND WHAT THIS TASK FORCE IS NOT GOING TO RECOMMEND IS A CURRENT CHANGE IN THE ROAD FUNDING FORMULA, BECAUSE THEY'RE FINDING A LOT OF THESE SO-CALLED ROADS FROM NOWHERE TO NOWHERE ARE THE ONLY CONNECTION BETWEEN MANY OF THE SMALL TOWNS IN THE STATE. AND SO I THINK THERE'S GOING TO BE A RETHINKING PROCESS ABOUT THAT, THAT THIS ACTUALLY IS A VITAL CONNECTION WITH THE CURRENT SYSTEM.

Glover: SO THE CHANGE -- THE PROPOSAL TO CHANGE THE ROAD FORMULA HAS NO FUTURE, IN YOUR MIND?

Gipp: THE CHANGE TO FUND THE ROAD FORMULA RIGHT AT THIS POINT IS NOT GOING TO HAPPEN.

Glover: MR. MYERS, SHOULD IT BE CHANGED?

Myers: I BELIEVE THE ROAD FORMULA SHOULD ADDRESS THE ISSUE OF POPULATION MORE THAN MILES THAN IT DOES RIGHT NOW. WE CAN ALSO DEAL WITH NEEDS IN RURAL AREAS BY SETTING ASIDE SPECIAL FUNDS JUST FOR THAT WHERE THE NEED ARISES. I THINK THERE'S WAYS TO LOOK AT THIS. AND I WOULD LIKE TO INVESTIGATE THAT. I DO BELIEVE THE ROAD USE TAX FORMULA WAS PUT IN PLACE ABOUT FIFTY SOME YEARS AGO, AND IT WAS MODIFIED ABOUT FIFTEEN YEARS AGO, SOMETHING LIKE THAT, IF I RECALL. THE POPULATION HAS SHIFTED, THE NEEDS HAVE CHANGED, AND WE NEED TO REACT TO THAT.

Yepsen: MR. MYERS, WE'VE GOT WAY TOO MANY QUESTIONS AND NOT ENOUGH TIME. TUITION... YOU'VE GOT A LOT OF STUDENTS THAT ARE YOUR CONSTITUENTS. YOU REPRESENT IOWA CITY. THEY'VE HAD BIG TUITION INCREASES THE LAST TWO YEARS. THE REGENTS HAVE SAID THEY HAVE TO DO IT. WILL THIS LEGISLATURE PROVIDE ENOUGH MONEY TO THE BOARD OF REGENTS INSTITUTIONS THAT YOU CAN AVOID FUTURE TUITION INCREASES?

Myers: WELL, I DON'T KNOW WHETHER AVOID IS THE PROPER WORD OR NOT, BUT I DO BELIEVE THAT THE PARENTS AND STUDENTS OF THE STATE OF IOWA THAT ATTEND OUR REGENTS UNIVERSITIES HAVE CERTAINLY STEPPED UP TO THE PLATE IN THE LAST THREE YEARS. I THINK IT'S ABOUT A 39-, 40-PERCENT INCREASE, SOMETHING LIKE THAT. SO I THINK WE NEED TO DO EVERYTHING WE CAN TO BLUNT THAT. AND ALSO -- I ALSO BELIEVE WE NEED TO TAKE A LITTLE BIT LONGER LOOK AT HOW OUR TUITION INCREASES ARE PROPOSED. YOU KNOW, PRIVATE -- THE PRIVATE COLLEGES IN THIS STATE, I ASKED THEM, I SAID, "HOW DO YOU RAISE TUITIONS?" AND THEY SAID, "WELL, WE'VE GOT A LITTLE PLAN. WE'VE GOT A LITTLE SCHEDULE ABOUT HOW WE'RE GOING TO DO THIS. WE HAVE SOME PREDICTABILITY TO IT." AND I WOULD URGE THE BOARD OF REGENTS TO ADOPT SOME PREDICTABILITY TO THE TUITION INCREASES.

Yepsen: MR. GIPP, TUITIONS, EVEN AFTER THESE INCREASES, ARE STILL BELOW WHAT THEY ARE FOR SIMILAR INSTITUTIONS ELSEWHERE IN OTHER STATES. SO ISN'T IT -- AS A PRACTICAL MATTER, CAN PARENTS AND STUDENTS IN IOWA STILL EXPECT TO PAY HIGHER TUITIONS IN THE FUTURE?

Gipp: I THINK THAT IF WE DON'T HAVE THE MONEY TO DO THE CORE FUNCTIONS OF THE GOVERNMENT LIKE MEDICAID, LIKE THE OTHER THINGS THAT ARE OUT THERE, IT'S GOING TO BE DIFFICULT TO BLUNT THOSE INCREASES IN THE FUTURE. BUT AS DICK SAID, WE NEED TO MAKE THEM MORE PREDICTABLE. BUT WE'RE STILL -- WE'RE VERY AFFORDABLE IN HIGHER EDUCATION COSTS.

Borg: MR. GIPP, DOES THE TUITION -- NOT THE TUITION, BUT DOES THE VISION IOWA PROGRAM HAVE A FUTURE? THAT IS THE FUNNELING MILLIONS OF DOLLARS OUT INTO DES MOINES, RURAL IOWA FOR TOURIST ATTRACTION?

Gipp: WELL, IT'S ONE OF THOSE THINGS THAT'S RECEIVED A LOT OF CRITICISM. IT'S REALLY BASICALLY MISUNDERSTOOD. WE HAVE PEOPLE OUT THERE THAT THINK, WELL, GEE, INSTEAD OF ALLOWING CONSTRUCTION OF AN IOWA EVENTS CENTER HERE AND FUNDING THAT IN DES MOINES THAT WE OUGHT TO BE ABLE TO USE THAT MONEY TO FUND EDUCATION AND CORRECTIONS AND THOSE TYPES OF THINGS. BUT IT TAKES A WHILE FOR US TO GET THEM TO UNDERSTAND THAT THAT IS BONDED DOLLARS. IT WAS STARTED IN 1999 WITH A FORWARD LOOKING VISION THAT NOT ONLY DO WE HAVE TO PROVIDE ECONOMIC OPPORTUNITY BUT SOCIAL OPPORTUNITY TO MAKE IOWA ATTRACTIVE. I THINK THAT VISION IS STILL THERE, AND I THINK IT MAY ACCOMPLISH THAT IN THE FUTURE. HOWEVER, EXPANSION OF THE VISION IOWA PROGRAM AT THIS TIME UNDER THE CURRENT ECONOMIC SITUATIONS CAN'T HAPPEN.

Glover: MR. MYERS, WHAT DO YOU THINK?

Myers: WELL, I WANT TO EXPAND THE VISION IOWA PROGRAM IF THE RESOURCES ARE THERE. I THINK WE NEED TO INVEST IN OURSELVES. I'VE SAID THAT BEFORE ON THIS PROGRAM. WE NEED TO TAKE RISKS WHEN TIMES ARE TOUGH AND I KNOW THAT BUSINESS DOES THAT AND I'M FOR IT. BUT I ALSO KNOW THE ECONOMIC SITUATION MAY NOT LET US DO THAT THIS YEAR.

Glover: MR. GIPP, THIS IS A DIFFERENT LEGISLATURE THAN THE ONE THAT WAS IN PLACE LAST YEAR. IT'S PROBABLY A LITTLE BIT MORE URBAN BECAUSE OF REDISTRICTING. ONE OF THE HOTTEST RURAL/URBAN ISSUES UP THERE IS THIS WHOLE NOTION OF EXPANDING THE LOCAL OPTION SALES TAX AND TAKING IT STATEWIDE. IS THAT GOING TO BE A SERIOUS DEBATE THIS YEAR?

Gipp: I THINK IT HAS TO BE A SERIOUS DEBATE BECAUSE I WOULD RATHER HAVE A LEGISLATIVE SOLUTION THAN THE JUDICIAL SOLUTION TO THE INEQUITIES CURRENTLY INVOLVED IN THE CURRENT -- THE WAY THE SYSTEM IS RIGHT NOW.

Glover: WELL, WHERE DO YOU STAND ON IT?

Gipp: WHERE DO I STAND? AS SENATOR JOANNE JOHNSON -- FORMER SENATOR JOANNE JOHNSON AND I CHAIRED THE SCHOOL INFRASTRUCTURE INTERIM COMMITTEE SEVERAL YEARS AGO AND WE MADE A RECOMMENDATION AT THAT TIME AND THE SPEAKERS LAID OUT ONE OF THE POSSIBLE SOLUTIONS TO LOOK AT. WHAT WE'RE GOING TO DO IS GET OUR CAUCUS MEMBERS INVOLVED IN BOTH PROS AND CONS IN THAT AND SEE IF WE CAN'T FIND A WORKABLE ALTERNATIVE TO WHAT WE CURRENTLY ARE DOING.

Glover: MR. MYERS, THE ISSUE IS RURAL PEOPLE COMPLAIN THAT THEY HAVE TO GO INTO THESE URBAN AREAS, URBAN SHOPPING CENTERS AND PAY A SALES TAX TO SUPPORT URBAN SCHOOLS WHILE THEIRS WITHER. WHERE ARE YOU ON THIS ONE?

Myers: WELL, IT REALLY POINTS OUT THE FLAW OF LOCAL OPTION TAXES TO BEGIN WITH, PARTICULARLY WHEN YOU DON'T HAVE A SALES TAX BASE, FOR HEAVEN'S SAKES. HOW ARE YOU GOING TO HELP YOUR SCHOOLS IF YOU DON'T HAVE THAT KIND OF BASE? I REALLY OBJECTED TO THE LAW BEING EXPANDED ON RAISING TAXES LAST YEAR. FIRST OF ALL, I DON'T LIKE SALES TAXES TO BEGIN WITH. BUT ALSO, IT WAS TOUTED AS BEING SOMETHING FOR PROBABLY TAX RELIEF, AS WELL AS AID TO SCHOOLS. I WASN'T QUITE SURE IT COULD DO BOTH, AND I WANTED TO SEE SOME DISCUSSION ON THAT RATHER THAN SOME SORT OF POLITICAL DECISION WE SEEM TO WANT TO MAKE. BUT RIGHT NOW I AM OPPOSED TO LOCAL OPTION TAXES.

Yepsen: MR. GIPP, YOU JUST GOT THROUGH SAYING YOU DIDN'T WANT TO RAISE TAXES, AND NOW YOU'RE TALKING ABOUT IMPOSING A LOCAL OPTION SALES TAX STATEWIDE. ISN'T THAT A STATEWIDE INCREASE IN THE SALES TAX?

Gipp: ACTUALLY, SOME OF THE ALTERNATIVES THAT ARE OUT THERE ARE NOT IMPOSING OF STATEWIDE LOCAL OPTION TAX, BECAUSE BEFORE WHAT WE WERE PROPOSING A FEW YEARS AGO WOULD HAVE ALLOWED VOTERS TO ACTUALLY TAX THEMSELVES BEFORE THEY WERE TO EVER SUCCEED.

Yepsen: K-12 EDUCATION HAS BEEN PROMISED A 2-PERCENT ALLOWABLE GROWTH. ARE YOU GOING TO BE ABLE TO KEEP THAT COMMITMENT?

Gipp: IT'S OUR COMMITMENT AND I TOLD THIS TO SCHOOL SUPERINTENDENTS IN ORDER FOR BUDGET PREDICTABILITY THAT WE HAVE TO DO WHATEVER WE CAN TO KEEP THAT 2 PERCENT IN PLACE.

Glover: MR. GIPP, ONLY A FEW SECONDS LEFT. WE'VE HAD AN ELECTION, AS YOU MENTIONED. WHAT'S OFF THE TABLE BECAUSE TOM VILSACK IS COMING BACK FOR A SECOND TERM?

Gipp: I THINK THE GOVERNOR HAS MADE IT PLAIN THAT EDUCATION IS GOING TO BE ONE OF HIS TOP PRIORITIES.

Glover: BUT WHAT'S OFF THE TABLE?

Gipp: OH, WHAT'S OFF THE TABLE? I THINK THE K-12 2-PERCENT ALLOWABLE GROWTH HAS TO BE OFF THE TABLE.

Glover: WHAT ABOUT THE EFFORT TO REINSTATE THE DEATH PENALTY?

Gipp: THAT'S A WHOLE DIFFERENT SITUATION. WE'VE GOT A LOT OF NEW PEOPLE IN OUR CAUCUSES, BOTH DEMOCRAT AND REPUBLICAN. IT'S NOT A POLITICAL ISSUE. THAT'S NOT A PARTISAN ISSUE. THAT'S AN INDIVIDUAL ISSUE AND WE'LL HAVE TO SEE WHERE OUR CAUCUS MEMBERS ARE ON THAT ISSUE.

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