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Iowa Press #3017
December 13, 2002

Yepsen: IOWA STATEHOUSE LEADERS ARE GEARING UP FOR THE LEGISLATIVE SESSION OF 2003 IN THE LONG SHADOW OF BIG BUDGET DEFICITS. WE'LL DISCUSS THE STATE'S BUDGET CRUNCH WITH SENATOR JEFF LAMBERTI, CHAIRMAN OF THE APPROPRIATIONS COMMITTEE IN THE IOWA SENATE, AND WITH REPRESENTATIVE PAT MURPHY, RANKING DEMOCRAT ON THE APPROPRIATIONS COMMITTEE IN THE IOWA HOUSE, 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, DECEMBER 13 EDITION OF "IOWA PRESS." HERE IS DAVID YEPSEN.

Yepsen: BUDGET CONFRONTATIONS WERE THE HALLMARK OF THE PAST TWO LEGISLATIVE SESSIONS. THAT'S BECAUSE STATE REVENUES WERE NOT MATCHING UP WITH STATE EXPENDITURES AND ADJUSTMENTS HAD TO BE MADE. AND IT APPEARS THAT WILL BE THE CASE THIS TIME AROUND AS WELL, AS IOWA'S 150 SENATORS AND REPRESENTATIVES BEGIN WORK ON THE BUDGET OF 2004 ON JANUARY 13, WHEN THE 80TH IOWA GENERAL ASSEMBLY GETS UNDERWAY. BUDGET ANALYSTS SAY THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN WHAT'S COMING IN AND WHAT'S GOING OUT OF THE STATE'S COFFERS AMOUNTS TO A $400-MILLION-PLUS SHORTFALL, AND IOWA STATEHOUSE LEADERS ARE ALREADY LOOKING FOR WAYS TO MAKE MORE CUTS TO MAKE ENDS MEET. TWO LEGISLATORS WHO'VE BEEN IN THE THICK OF THE BUDGET BATTLES IN YEARS PAST WILL AGAIN BE KEY PLAYERS THIS TIME AROUND, AND THEY JOIN US HERE AT THE "IOWA PRESS" TABLE TO TAKE A LOOK AT WHAT'S AHEAD. SENATOR JEFF LAMBERTI, A REPUBLICAN FROM ANKENY, IS CHAIRMAN OF THE APPROPRIATIONS COMMITTEE IN THE IOWA SENATE; AND REPRESENTATIVE PAT MURPHY, A DEMOCRAT FROM DUBUQUE, IS THE RANKING MEMBER OF THE APPROPRIATIONS COMMITTEE IN THE IOWA HOUSE. GENTLEMEN, THANKS FOR COMING BACK AND BEING WITH US AGAIN THIS WEEKEND. WE APPRECIATE YOUR TIME.

Murphy: THANK YOU, DAVID.

Lamberti: THANKS.

Yepsen: ALSO WITH US AT THE "IOWA PRESS" TABLE ARE KATHIE OBRADOVICH, DES MOINES BUREAU CHIEF WITH "THE LEE NEWSPAPERS," AND JENEANE BECK, IOWA STATEHOUSE REPORTER WITH "KUNI PUBLIC RADIO."

Beck: SENATOR LAMBERTI, START US OFF. TELL US HOW YOU PUT TOGETHER A BUDGET IN THE FACE OF A $400-MILLION SHORTFALL.

Lamberti: WELL, FIRST THING, IT'S GOING TO BE VERY DIFFICULT, AS IT'S BEEN OVER THE LAST COUPLE YEARS. AS I'VE STARTED TO PUT TOGETHER SOME PRELIMINARY NUMBERS -- AND OBVIOUSLY, SOME OF THIS WILL CHANGE AS WE GET CLOSER TO JANUARY 13 -- I GUESS I'VE COME TO A CONCLUSION THAT TO SIMPLY TRY TO BALANCE THIS BUDGET WITH A $400-MILLION SHORTFALL ON THE BACKS OF CUTS ALONE IS PROBABLY NOT GOING TO BE POSSIBLE. IF YOU PUT -- IF YOU TAKE EDUCATION OFF THE TABLE, IF YOU TAKE MEDICAID OFF THE TABLE, BECAUSE WE REALLY CAN'T CUT MEDICAID, PRISONS WHERE WE KNOW WE HAVE A PROBLEM, WE'RE REALLY LEFT WITH ABOUT 25 PERCENT OF OUR BUDGET. IF YOU TRY TO TAKE $400 MILLION IN CUTS OUT OF THAT, THAT'S ABOUT 30 PERCENT OF THE REST OF OUR BUDGET. SO I THINK WE'RE GOING TO STRUGGLE WITH POSSIBLY SOME ADDITIONAL CUTS, BUT I THINK, UNFORTUNATELY, WE'RE GOING TO HAVE TO LOOK AT SOME OF THE ONE-TIME SPENDING AND SOME OF THAT, THAT WE'VE DONE BEFORE, BORROWING MONEY, TO TRY TO MAKE THIS A STATUS QUO BUDGET.

Beck: HOW MUCH MONEY IS LEFT IN THOSE RESERVE ACCOUNTS THAT WE'VE BORROWED FROM BEFORE?

Lamberti: WELL, WE HAVE ABOUT $230-, $240 MILLION LEFT IN OUR CASH RESERVES. UNFORTUNATELY, WE'VE GOT A MEDICAID PROBLEM WE HAVE TO DEAL WITH THIS YEAR THAT'S PROJECTED TO BE $50- TO $75 MILLION. I WOULD NOT BE SURPRISED TO SEE THAT PUSH $100 MILLION BEFORE THE YEAR IS DONE, SO THAT'S A LITTLE BIT OF BAD NEWS. AND ACTUALLY, THIS $400-MILLION SHORTFALL COULD EASILY BECOME A $5- OR $600-MILLION SHORTFALL WHEN YOU LOOK AT MEDICAID.

Obradovich: WELL, REPRESENTATIVE MURPHY, DO YOU AGREE WITH THAT ASSESSMENT THAT YOU'RE GOING TO HAVE TO GO TO ONE-TIME SOURCES OF FUNDING?

Murphy: WELL, THAT'S SOMETHING WE DID IN THE LAST -- ACTUALLY, IN THE LAST TWO LEGISLATIVE SESSIONS, WE HAVE DONE IT. WE'VE LOOKED AT THE UNDERGROUND STORAGE TANK FUND. WE'VE LOOKED AT THE SENIOR LIVING TRUST FUND LAST YEAR. IN FACT, THAT WAS A BIPARTISAN AGREEMENT WHERE WE HAD DEMOCRATS AND REPUBLICANS AGREEING TO TAKE MONEY OUT OF THE SENIOR LIVING TRUST FUND AND OUT OF TOBACCO TO BALANCE THAT SO THAT WE DID NOT HAVE TO CUT SERVICES. SO WE ARE GOING TO HAVE TO TAKE A LOOK AT THE ONE-TIME FUNDING. IT'S ESTIMATED THAT IT WAS ABOUT $200 MILLION THIS PAST LEGISLATIVE SESSION THAT WE USED. AND THE BOTTOM LINE IS WE'RE GOING TO HAVE TO SEE WHAT AREAS WE CAN CONTINUE TO DO THAT OR IF WE WANT TO DO IT. AND THEN WE'LL HAVE TO MAKE A DECISION FROM THERE AS TO WHERE WE GO.

Yepsen: SENATOR LAMBERTI, ISN'T THIS THE THIRD YEAR NOW YOU'VE HAD TO DIP INTO YOUR RESERVE FUNDS?

Lamberti: YES.

Yepsen: WHY CAN'T YOU GUYS GET IT RIGHT?

Lamberti: WELL, AS I SAID BEFORE, TRYING TO TAKE THOSE KIND OF CUTS OUT OF THE 25 PERCENT OF THE BUDGET THAT'S LEFT IS VERY DIFFICULT. AT THE SAME TIME, WE'RE PROBABLY ONE OF THE FEW STATES, IF ANY, THAT HAVE ACTUALLY REDUCED THEIR GENERAL FUND APPROPRIATIONS, AND THAT'S WHY WE'RE IN BETTER SHAPE THAN A LOT OF THE OTHER STATES. BUT WE NEED TO FIND A WAY TO KIND OF MAINTAIN THE STATUS QUO UNTIL BETTER TIMES RETURN. WE JUST CAN'T DO THAT SIMPLY THROUGH CUTS ANYMORE.

Yepsen: WILL YOU RAISE TAXES?

Lamberti: I DON'T BELIEVE SO. I DON'T THINK WE NEED TO RAISE TAXES TO SOLVE THIS PROBLEM. AND ACTUALLY, THAT WOULD BE CONTRARY TO WHAT WE NEED TO DO IN TERMS OF GROWING OUR ECONOMY. SO WE CAN DO IT. IT'S NOT GOING TO BE EASY, BUT WE DON'T NEED TO RAISE TAXES.

Yepsen: MR. MURPHY, WHAT ABOUT THIS TAX INCREASE ISSUE? I HEAR A LOT OF TALK FROM LEGISLATORS ABOUT, OH, WE NEED TAX REFORM, WE NEED TO FIX THE BASE OF THE SALES TAX. ARE WE GOING TO SEE SOME BACK-DOOR TAX INCREASES OUT OF THIS LEGISLATURE?

Murphy: I DON'T THINK SO. I THINK THE ISSUE WITH THE TAX REFORM ISSUE WAS ACTUALLY BROUGHT UP BY SENATE MAJORITY LEADER STEW IVERSON, AND THE GOVERNOR HAS WELCOMED THE IDEA OF TAKING A LOOK AT MAKING US MORE COMPETITIVE WITH TAXES. I DON'T THINK THAT'S AN AUTOMATIC BACK DOOR TO TAX INCREASES. IF WE HAVE TO BE MORE COMPETITIVE GEOGRAPHICALLY WITH THE STATES THAT ARE AROUND US SO THAT WE'RE COMPETITIVE IN THE BUSINESS CLIMATE, THEN WE NEED TO TAKE A LOOK AT THAT.

Yepsen: SO AT THE END OF THE DAY, WHATEVER YOU TAKE FROM IOWA TAXPAYERS WILL STILL BE ABOUT THE SAME?

Murphy: YES.

Obradovich: WELL, SENATOR LAMBERTI, WHAT ARE THE PRIORITIES THAT YOU FEEL LIKE YOU HAVE TO FUND UP FRONT? IS THERE GOING TO BE AN INCREASE SPENDING IN AREA OF THIS BUDGET? YOU MENTIONED YOU CAN'T TAKE MONEY AWAY FROM EDUCATION. YOU CAN'T TAKE MONEY AWAY FROM MEDICAID. WHERE ARE YOU GOING TO ACTUALLY SPEND SOME MONEY THIS YEAR?

Lamberti: WELL, OBVIOUSLY WE'RE FORCED TO SPEND MONEY ON MEDICAID, AND THAT'S GOING TO CONTINUE TO BE A PROBLEM. WE'RE LOOKING AT A $75- TO $100-MILLION SHORTFALL IN THE CURRENT YEAR, AND I EXPECT THE INCREASE TO BE SOMETHING SIMILAR IN '04. I SUSPECT THAT WE'LL DO SOMETHING IN THE AREA OF CORRECTIONS. I THINK WE UNDERSTAND WE HAVE A PROBLEM WITH OUR PRISONS. THAT'S NOT A LOT OF MONEY, BUT IT WILL SEE SOME INCREASE, I THINK, IN SPENDING. ON THE BALANCE, WHEN I LOOK AT THE REST OF THE BUDGET -- AND I'M TALKING ABOUT USING ONE-TIME MONEYS TO TRY TO BALANCE THIS BUDGET, WHICH IS NOT A VERY GOOD BUDGET PRACTICE AND IN LARGE PART IS WHY WE'RE WHERE WE'RE AT, IT MEANS WE'RE GOING TO CONTINUE TO STRUGGLE WITH OUR BUDGET PROBLEMS. IT'S AWFUL HARD TO JUSTIFY INCREASING SPENDING ANYWHERE ELSE. AND I THINK THAT'S A DEBATE WE'RE GOING TO HAVE TO HAVE IS: DOES ANY AREA OF THE BUDGET, UNLESS WE'RE MANDATED TO SPEND IT, DESERVE AN INCREASE?

Obradovich: WELL, REPRESENTATIVE MURPHY, DO YOU AGREE THAT IT'S GOING TO BE PRETTY MUCH STATUS QUO IN SPENDING, OR ARE THERE OTHER AREAS THAT YOUR CAUCUS WANTS TO ACTUALLY ADD SOME MONEY?

Murphy: WELL, I THINK OUR CAUCUS'S POSITION AT THIS POINT IS WE WANT TO MAKE SURE THAT -- BASICALLY WE HAVE THREE PRIORITIES, AND IT'S GOING TO BE EDUCATION, HEALTH CARE, AND MAKING SURE THAT WE TRY TO ECONOMICALLY GROW THE STATE. THOSE ARE THE THREE AREAS THAT WE'RE GOING TO CONCENTRATE ON PROTECTING THE AREAS OF THE BUDGET, ALONG WITH PUBLIC SAFETY. I THINK THE ISSUE, LIKE, WITH MEDICAID, WE HAVE TO MAKE SURE THAT WE PROVIDE THE SERVICES THAT ARE REQUIRED. WE'RE FEDERALLY MANDATED TO DO THAT. AND WE DO HAVE SOME CHOICES WITH OPTIONAL SERVICES, BUT THERE IS NOT THE -- THERE'S NOT THE WHEREWITHAL WITHIN THE LEGISLATURE TO ELIMINATE ANY OPTIONAL SERVICES, SO I DON'T EXPECT THAT TO HAPPEN EITHER.

Beck: YOU MENTIONED PROTECTING EDUCATION. WHY IS IT OFF THE TABLE, AND ARE THERE SECTIONS OF IT, THEN, THAT WILL BE REDUCED SO THAT YOU CAN FUND OTHER PRIORITIES WITHIN THAT EDUCATION UMBRELLA?

Lamberti: I THINK THE GOAL WOULD BE TO MAINTAIN EDUCATION FUNDING WHERE IT IS AT A MINIMUM. AND IF YOU HAD ANY AVAILABLE DOLLARS, THAT'S CERTAINLY GOING TO BE ONE OF YOUR TOP PRIORITIES AFTER MEDICAID. I THINK IT'S GOING TO BE -- WE'RE GOING TO BE HARD PRESSED TO COME UP WITH NEW MONEY, BUT EDUCATION IS ALWAYS A PRIORITY IN IOWA. I THINK WE'VE DONE A DECENT JOB OF TRYING TO PROTECT K-12 OVER THE LAST FEW YEARS IN THE FACE OF SOME SIGNIFICANT BUDGET CUTS. BUT AS YOU LOOK AT HIGHER EDUCATION, WHETHER IT'S THE REGENTS, COMMUNITY COLLEGES, OR THE PRIVATE COLLEGES, WE HAVE CUT THEM, AND THERE'S ONLY SO FAR YOU CAN GO WITH THAT. SO I THINK IT'S OUR GOAL TO PROTECT EDUCATION.

Beck: REPRESENTATIVE MURPHY, YOU BOTH HAVE MENTIONED THAT YOU'RE GOING TO NEED TO PUT SOME MONEY INTO THE DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS, THE PRISON SYSTEM. CAN THAT WAIT UNTIL THE 2004 BUDGET, OR ARE YOU GOING TO HAVE TO COME IN AT THE BEGINNING OF THE SESSION AND GIVE THEM SOME EXTRA MONEY RIGHT OFF THE BAT IN A SUPPLEMENTAL TO FINISH OUT THE 2003 BUDGET?

Murphy: I THINK THERE'S SOME FEELINGS WITHIN THE LEGISLATURE TO DEAL WITH THAT IMMEDIATELY, AS SOON AS WE GO INTO SESSION. I THINK IF YOU SEE A SUPPLEMENTAL BILL, WE'RE GOING TO HAVE TO DO A SUPPLEMENTAL ON MEDICAID. AS SENATOR LAMBERTI MENTIONED, WE'RE LOOKING AT A $50- TO $75-MILLION SHORTFALL. IT COULD GO HIGHER. I THINK WE WILL ADDRESS CORRECTIONS AS WELL. BUT TO TALK FURTHER ABOUT THE EDUCATION, THEY HAVE REALLY TAKEN -- I DON'T THINK PEOPLE UNDERSTAND. WE'VE HAD 18-PERCENT INCREASES AT THE REGENT UNIVERSITIES THE LAST TWO YEARS. WE'VE HAD COMMUNITY COLLEGES, WHICH IS REALLY THE ECONOMIC BACKBONE OF THIS STATE, THAT HAVE SUFFERED CUTS AS WELL. SO I DON'T THINK -- WE REALLY HAVE TO PROTECT EDUCATION IS OUR NUMBER ONE PRIORITY.

Beck: NOBODY HAS TOLD ME THE SIZE OF THE PRISON PROBLEM, THE SCOPE OF HOW MUCH MONEY YOU MIGHT NEED IN A SUPPLEMENTAL. DO YOU KNOW, SENATOR LAMBERTI?

Lamberti: PRELIMINARILY WE'RE LOOKING AT A NUMBER PROBABLY SOMEWHERE BETWEEN $8 AND $15 MILLION. WE'RE JUST STARTING TO GET SOME OF THE NUMBERS. IT'S NOT A HUGE FIGURE BUT, WHEN YOU HAVE NO MONEY, ANY NUMBER IS BIG. BUT I WOULD AGREE, I THINK WE'RE GOING TO LOOK TO ADDRESS IT WHEN WE COME IN IN JANUARY FOR THE CURRENT FISCAL YEAR.

Obradovich: AND YOU'RE SAYING THAT THE SUPPLEMENTAL FOR MEDICAID MAY HAVE TO BE MORE THAN $70 MILLION?

Lamberti: WELL, THE TREND HAS BEEN EVERY TIME WE GET AN ESTIMATE -- WE STARTED THE YEAR, I THINK THE ESTIMATE WAS SOMEWHERE IN THE NEIGHBORHOOD OF 30 TO 50. NOW IT'S 50 TO 75. AND BASED UPON CURRENT TRENDS, IT WOULDN'T SURPRISE ME TO SEE THAT NUMBER GO HIGHER.

Obradovich: WELL, DO YOU AGREE WITH REPRESENTATIVE MURPHY'S ASSESSMENT THAT THERE'S NOT THE WILL IN THE LEGISLATURE TO ACTUALLY MAKE CUTS IN MEDICAID? THEY DIDN'T HAVE IT THIS YEAR TO MAKE ANY KIND OF CUTS. THERE ARE GOING TO BE SOME RECOMMENDATIONS FROM THE PROGRAM ELIMINATION COMMISSION AND OTHERS FOR CHANGES, AND THERE'S BEEN TALK ABOUT A PRIVATE SECTOR GROUP TO MAYBE TRY AND IMPOSE SOME KIND OF MANAGEMENT ON SOME OF THE SPENDING. BUT YOU DON'T SOUND TOO OPTIMISTIC ABOUT THAT.

Lamberti: I'M NOT SURE YOU'RE GOING TO GET SIGNIFICANT SAVINGS OR THAT YOU'RE REALLY GOING TO STOP THE OVERALL BLEEDING THAT WE'RE SEEING FROM MEDICAID WHEN WE'RE TALKING ABOUT A HUNDRED MILLION A YEAR. BUT, YEAH, YOU MAY BE ABLE TO DO SOME THINGS THAT WILL HAVE SOME COST CONTAINMENT. I WOULDN'T RULE OUT A LOOK AT THAT. WHAT WE DID SEE -- THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT SAYS THERE'S OPTIONAL SERVICES THAT YOU DON'T HAVE TO FUND. BUT WHEN YOU START TO LOOK AT THOSE OPTIONAL SERVICES, THEY'RE HEALTH CARE THAT MOST OF US WOULD NOT CALL OPTIONAL, AND THAT'S WHAT MAKES IT DIFFICULT. IT'S A LITTLE BIT MISLEADING LABEL. BUT MANAGING IT BETTER, MAYBE LOOKING AT SOME CHANGES, I'M NOT GOING TO RULE THAT OUT. BUT I DON'T SEE THOSE SAVINGS BEING HUGE RELATIVE TO THE PROBLEM.

Yepsen: JUST SO OUR VIEWERS UNDERSTAND, A SUPPLEMENTAL IS A SHORT TERM THAT WE PEOPLE USE AT THE STATEHOUSE FOR ADDING MONEY INTO THE CURRENT YEAR'S BUDGET. YOU'RE NOW IN THE FISCAL 2003 BUDGET. WE'RE AT THE MIDPOINT OF THAT YEAR. AND SO YOU'RE TALKING ABOUT COMING IN IMMEDIATELY IN JANUARY AND SPENDING MORE MONEY ON MEDICAID AND MORE MONEY ON CORRECTIONS, RIGHT?

Lamberti: MM-HMM.

Yepsen: ALL RIGHT. SO THEN WHEN YOU START WORK ON THE 2004 BUDGET, YOU DON'T HAVE ANYTHING LEFT -- YOU DON'T HAVE ANY CARRYOVER. IF YOU DO $75 MILLION FOR MEDICAID AND $15 MILLION FOR CORRECTIONS, THAT BRINGS YOUR NEW REVENUES TO ZERO; DOES IT NOT, SENATOR?

Lamberti: THAT'S CORRECT. AND IT ESSENTIALLY TAKES THE ENDING BALANCE FROM FISCAL YEAR 2002, WHICH WAS ABOUT $100 MILLION, AND IT'S GONE. IT DOES ONE OTHER THING. IF THE SUPPLEMENTAL IS IN THE NEIGHBORHOOD OF $100 MILLION, IT TAKES THAT $400-MILLION PROBLEM AND MAKES IT A $500-MILLION PROBLEM, BECAUSE IT GETS BUILT INTO THE BASE. UNFORTUNATELY, WHEN YOU LOOK AT THOSE TWO AREAS OF THE BUDGET, MEDICAID IN PARTICULAR, WE DON'T HAVE ANY CHOICE. WE HAVE TO ADDRESS THAT PROBLEM.

Yepsen: LET'S TALK -- EXCUSE ME. LET'S TALK ABOUT THE 2004 BUDGET. ONE OF THE BIG COST FIGURES IN GOVERNMENT'S BUDGET IS THE COST OF PAYROLL, IS THE COST OF YOUR EMPLOYEES. HOW BIG A PAY RAISE DO YOU EXPECT, SENATOR LAMBERTI, TO SEE STATE WORKERS GET? AND, SECONDLY, WILL YOU BE ABLE TO AVOID LAYOFFS?

Lamberti: I DON'T KNOW WHAT THE FINAL NEGOTIATIONS WILL BE THERE. THEY'RE OBVIOUSLY IN NEGOTIATIONS RIGHT NOW, AND WE'LL GET THAT NUMBER. BUT BASED ON HISTORIC TRENDS, WE'RE GOING TO BE PROBABLY RAISED SOMEWHERE IN THE NEIGHBORHOOD OF 1 TO 3 PERCENT. WHAT THAT RELATES TO IS A FIGURE FOR US, JUST THE SALARY INCREASES OF $50 TO $80 MILLION. CAN WE FUND THAT? I DOUBT IT. THE QUESTION BECOMES CAN THE DEPARTMENTS ON THE STATUS QUO BUDGET PREVENT LAYOFFS, AND THAT'S GOING TO BE UP TO THEM TO MANAGE. MY GOAL WOULD BE TO, AS I INDICATED, DO ALMOST A BUDGET FREEZE, WITH THE EXCEPTION OF MEDICAID AND PRISONS.

Yepsen: MR. MURPHY, DO YOU AGREE WITH THAT? I MEAN WE HAVE A LOT OF STATE WORKERS WHO WATCH OUR PROGRAM. CAN WE AVOID LAYOFFS?

Murphy: WELL, I THINK WE CAN. I THINK ONE OF THE THINGS THAT -- TO ANSWER YOUR QUESTION, YES, I THINK WE CAN. LAST YEAR WE USED SOME ONE-TIME MONEY TO DEAL WITH THE SALARY ISSUE. WE'VE ALSO PUT SOME OF THAT BURDEN BACK ON THE DEPARTMENTS THEMSELVES TO TAKE THEIR EXISTING DOLLARS FOR SALARIES. BUT WE STILL HAVE TO WAIT AND SEE WHAT THE OVERALL PACKAGE IS. IT'S SOMETHING THAT THE GOVERNOR IS IN NEGOTIATIONS RIGHT NOW WITH -- AFSCME IS THE LARGEST GROUP, BUT I MEAN WE'RE WAITING FOR THAT TO COME DOWN. WE'LL HAVE TO MAKE THAT DECISION ONCE WE SEE THAT OVERALL PORTION OF THE BUDGET. IT'S PRETTY HARD TO SPECULATE ON WHAT THAT'S GOING TO BE. WE'VE HAD COURT CASES THAT HAVE -- IF YOU GO BACK TO THE EARLY '90S THAT HAD HUGE INCREASES BECAUSE OF COURT RULINGS. BUT THE GOVERNOR HAS TO SUBMIT A BUDGET THAT HE'LL HAVE TO INCLUDE THAT IN THERE, SO WE'LL HAVE AN IDEA OF WHAT THAT IS.

Yepsen: SO THE BOTTOM LINE IS IF STATE WORKERS GET A NICE BIG PAY RAISE, THAT'S GOING TO MEAN A LOT MORE LAYOFFS.

Murphy: NOT NECESSARILY. I MEAN IF YOU TAKE A LOOK AT WHAT WE DID THIS PAST SESSION, WE ENDED UP TAKING MONEY AND WE USED MONEY FROM THE UNDERGROUND STORAGE TANK. NOW, GRANTED, THAT'S ONE-TIME MONEY BUT WE USED THAT AND WE ALSO HAD -- THE LEGISLATURE PASSED IT SO THAT MONEY CAME OUT OF EXISTING OR OUT OF SETTLEMENTS, LIKE WE DID WITH THE UNIVERSITY OF IOWA. SO THERE'S NUMEROUS POSSIBILITIES THAT COULD HAPPEN. IT WASN'T A LAWSUIT BUT IT WAS A SETTLEMENT WITH AN INSURANCE COMPANY. SO I THINK THERE'S -- YOU ALWAYS HAVE TO LOOK AT WHAT ALL YOUR OPTIONS ARE. WE HAVE BEEN TABLE TO -- LAST YEAR WE WERE ABLE TO AVOID THAT BY USING THOSE FUNDS. WE MAY HAVE TO LOOK AT ALL OF OUR OPTIONS AGAIN LIKE WE HAVE IN YEARS PAST.

Beck: ANOTHER PART OF THE BUDGET THAT'S AFFECTED, NOT JUST BY SALARIES, IS A SUPREME COURT RULING RECENTLY THAT SAID THAT YOU CANNOT TAX THE LAND-BASED CASINOS HIGHER THAN THE RIVERBOAT CASINOS, WHICH MEANS ABOUT A $140-MILLION SHORTFALL. IS THAT THE RANGE THAT WE'RE LOOKING AT IN TAX INCOME LOSSES TO THE STATE? AND ALTHOUGH YOU TWO ARE NOT CHARGED WITH MAKING THE DECISION OF WHAT TO DO ABOUT THAT, YOU HAVE SOME PLAY WHEN TRYING TO PUT TOGETHER THE BUDGET. DO YOU RAISE TAXES ON THOSE OTHER CASINOS?

Lamberti: WELL, WE HAVE TWO ISSUES. WE HAVE THE FACT THAT ON AN ANNUAL BASIS WE'RE LOSING $35-, $36 MILLION, WHICH DOES CREATE A PROBLEM FOR US, BUT ONE THAT WE COULD MANAGE IF WE DID NOTHING, IF WE JUST KEPT THE TAX RATE ON BOATS AND THE LAND BASED AT THE SAME. THE BIGGER PROBLEM IS THE PAYBACK, AND THAT'S THE $100-PLUS-MILLION FIGURE. WE'RE NOT SURE HOW WE'RE GOING TO HANDLE THAT. I THINK WE HAVE TO TRY TO FIND SOME WAY TO LOOK AT THAT WHOLE ISSUE AND FIND OUT WHAT WE'RE GOING TO DO WITH THE TAX RATE. THE PROBLEM IS THAT MEANS A FULL-FLEDGED GAMBLING DEBATE, I BELIEVE. AND WE'VE SEEN THAT'S VERY DIFFICULT IN THE PAST. THEN WE HAVE ALL THESE NEW FACES. BUT I'M NOT SURE WE CAN AVOID THAT.

Yepsen: BUT IT'S NOT AN OFFICIAL SESSION IN THE LEGISLATURE IF YOU DON'T HAVE A GAMBLING DEBATE; IS IT, SENATOR?

Lamberti: I GUESS NOT.

Beck: REPRESENTATIVE MURPHY, YOU REPRESENT AN AREA ALONG THE RIVER, WHICH WOULD REPRESENT RIVERBOAT CASINOS. KNOWING THAT YOU HAVE THESE OTHER PRIORITIES TO FUND LIKE EDUCATION, LIKE THE CORRECTION SYSTEM, WOULD YOU SAY THE RIVERBOAT CASINOS NEED TO BUMP UP THEIR TAXES TO COVER THIS HOLE?

Murphy: AND THAT WAS SOMETHING THAT SENATOR LAMBERTI DISCUSSED BACK IN JUNE, WHEN WE HAD THE COURT DECISION ABOUT A POSSIBILITY OF A SPECIAL SESSION. WE NEED TO MAKE SURE THAT, FIRST OF ALL, WE MAKE IT REVENUE NEUTRAL. IT DOESN'T AFFECT THE GENERAL FUND, BECAUSE THE MAJORITY OF THAT MONEY GOES INTO INFRASTRUCTURE. SO WE DON'T HAVE TO WORRY ABOUT HOW IT AFFECTS THE GENERAL FUND BUDGET. BUT THE PART THAT I THINK WE NEED TO MAKE SURE THAT WE ADDRESS IS THAT IT'S REVENUE NEUTRAL AND THAT IT MEETS THE COURT REQUIREMENTS. ON THE ISSUE OF HOW WE'RE GOING TO SETTLE OUT ON THAT $100 MILLION IN TAX INEQUITY, I THINK THAT'S ONE OF THE THINGS THAT WE LEAVE THE ATTORNEY GENERAL TO, TOM MILLER, SO THAT -- HE'S NEGOTIATED AGREEMENTS WITH THE STATE TROOPERS IN REGARDS TO ANOTHER SETTLEMENT. WHAT THE ORIGINAL DOLLAR AMOUNT WAS AND WHAT THEY WERE ABLE TO SETTLE ON WERE MUCH DIFFERENT, AND I THINK WE SHOULD GIVE HIM THE ABILITY TO SEE IF HE CAN NEGOTIATE THAT AND MAKE THE CHANGES THAT ARE NECESSARY.

Obradovich: REPRESENTATIVE MURPHY, THE STATE IS ALSO STARTING TO SEE -- I THINK GETTING A BETTER IDEA OF WHAT THE FALLOUT WILL BE ON THE SETTLEMENT FOR THE STATE TROOPER SETTLEMENT DEALING WITH OVERTIME AND BACK PAY, WHICH THE STATE LOST. WHAT DO YOU THINK IS GOING TO HAPPEN WITH THAT?

Murphy: WELL, I THINK, FIRST OF ALL, WE HAVE TO KEEP OUR OBLIGATION. THAT IS SOMETHING THAT -- WAS SOMETHING THAT WAS SET IN MOTION A LONG TIME AGO. THAT WAS SOMETHING THAT WAS DONE UNDER GOVERNOR BRANSTAD'S ADMINISTRATION WHERE THEY STARTED VIEWING MORE WORKERS AS SALARY EMPLOYEES, WHEN IN ACTUALITY THEY SHOULD HAVE BEEN HOURLY. BECAUSE OF THAT, WE'VE HAD THAT LARGE SETTLEMENT. NOW, MY UNDERSTANDING IS THE NEGOTIATIONS NOW HAVE IT UNDER $15 MILLION. BUT THERE IS DIFFERENT WAYS TO LOOK AT HOW WE CAN DEAL WITH FUNDING THAT ISSUE, AND IT DOESN'T NECESSARILY HAVE TO BE GENERAL FUND REVENUES.

Obradovich: WELL, SENATOR LAMBERTI, DO YOU AGREE WITH THAT? CAN YOU FUND THAT SETTLEMENT WITHOUT HAVING TO GO INTO THE GENERAL FUND?

Lamberti: SOME OF IT, YES. I'M NOT SURE WE CAN FUND ALL OF IT THAT WAY. SOME OF IT RELATED TO THE TROOPERS, IN PARTICULAR, BACK WHEN THE ISSUES OR THE PAY ISSUES CAME UP OR BACK WHEN THE TROOPERS WERE ACTUALLY FUNDED FROM THE ROAD FUND, SO THERE IS SOME ARGUMENT THAT THAT'S THE FUND THAT OUGHT TO PAY THAT BACK. BUT WE ALSO HAVE CORRECTIONS AND DNR THAT WOULD PRESUMABLY BE GENERAL FUND DOLLARS. I THINK THE BIGGER ISSUE -- I WOULD AGREE -- NUMBER ONE, IT'S AN OBLIGATION OF THE STATE. WE HAVE TO PAY IT BACK. HOPEFULLY WE CAN ENTER INTO SOME NEGOTIATIONS TO SPREAD THAT OUT OVER MULTIPLE YEARS, BECAUSE WE JUST DON'T HAVE THE MONEY TO WRITE A CHECK FOR $15 MILLION. WE JUST DON'T.

Beck: SENATOR LAMBERTI, LET'S TRY TO MOVE TO SOLUTIONS, IF THERE ARE ANYWAY. THE GROUP THAT HAS BEEN MEETING HAS BEEN THE PROGRAM ELIMINATION COMMISSION. THEY WERE CHARGED WITH TRYING TO FIND $100 MILLION WORTH OF SAVINGS WITHIN THE EXISTING BUDGET. THEY DON'T THINK THEY'RE GOING TO COME UP WITH THAT. WHAT DO YOU THINK IS GOING TO COME OUT OF THAT GROUP, AND CAN YOU USE ANY OF THEIR RECOMMENDATIONS?

Lamberti: I THINK WE CAN USE SOME OF THEIR RECOMMENDATIONS. I'M NOT SURE WE'RE GOING TO LOOK AT ALL OF THEM, UNFORTUNATELY. I THINK I'LL START WITH -- THEY HAD SOME ISSUES ON SENTENCING REFORM. WE'VE STRUGGLED WITH SENTENCING REFORM OVER THE LAST FEW YEARS, AND I THINK THERE'S A WILLINGNESS TO LOOK AT THAT. MY CONCERN WITH WHAT THEY PROPOSED WAS KIND OF A BLANKET SOLUTION ON OUR 85-PERCENT MINIMUM SENTENCES. I SERVED ON THE SENTENCING COMMISSION FOR TWO YEARS, WHERE WE HAD ALL KINDS OF EXPERTS -- JUDGES, PROSECUTORS -- FROM ALL OVER THE STATE. WE COULDN'T COME TO AGREEMENTS ON A LOT OF THESE, AND SO I THINK MAYBE THAT'S AN OVERLY SIMPLISTIC APPROACH TO SAVING MONEY. BUT AT THE SAME TIME, WE WILL LOOK AT SENTENCING REFORM AND TRY TO FIND SOME WAYS TO SAVE MONEY. I THINK WE'LL LOOK AT SOME OF THEIR OTHER RECOMMENDATIONS. BUT I THINK IT DEMONSTRATES THE DIFFICULTY OF GETTING IT SIMPLY THROUGH CUTS. AS I LOOK AT SOLUTIONS, THAT'S WHERE I'M TALKING ABOUT POSSIBLY JUST A BUDGET FREEZE. AS I LOOK AT THIS, IF I DID NOTHING BUT FUNDED MEDICAID AND SOME OF THE OTHER BUILT-INS THAT I'M FORCED TO FUND, WE'RE PROBABLY STILL LOOKING AT A BUDGET SHORTFALL THAT'S $2- TO $300 MILLION. I FIND IT AWFUL HARD, THEN, TO JUSTIFY AN INCREASE IN SPENDING ANYWHERE ELSE. LET'S JUST MAINTAIN THE STATUS QUO. I'M NOT SURE WE HAVE ENOUGH ONE-TIME MONEY LEFT EVEN TO MEET THAT, BUT I THINK WE COULD GO A LONG WAYS TOWARD SOLVING THIS PROBLEM AND THEN POSSIBLY LOOKING AT SOME OF THE PROGRAM ELIMINATION COMMISSION RECOMMENDATIONS.

Beck: HOW MUCH MONEY DO YOU THINK YOU CAN SAVE OUT OF THOSE COMMISSION'S RECOMMENDATIONS?

Murphy: WELL, FIRST OF ALL, I THINK WHAT SENATOR LAMBERTI TALKED ABOUT IN REGARD TO SENTENCING REFORM, I THINK THAT'S ONE OF THE THINGS THAT I THINK WE DO NEED TO TAKE A LOOK AT. AND I THINK DEMOCRATS WILL WORK IN A BIPARTISAN WAY TO SEE WHAT WE CAN DO TO RESOLVE THAT. ON THE ISSUE, THOUGH, OF THE PROGRAM ELIMINATION COMMISSION, THEY WERE ORIGINALLY -- THEIR MISSION WAS TO SAVE $100 MILLION. AND I THINK THEY'RE GOING TO END UP SOMEWHERE BETWEEN ONE-TENTH AND ONE-FIFTH OF WHAT THEY WERE SUPPOSED TO. THEY'RE FINDING OUT THE SAME PROBLEM WE ARE. THEY LOOKED AT WHAT THE FISHER COMMISSION DID TEN, ELEVEN YEARS AGO. PRETTY MUCH EVERYTHING THE FISHER COMMISSION PROPOSED DIDN'T HAPPEN, BECAUSE IT'S NOT POLITICALLY VIABLE FOR ELECTED OFFICIALS TO DO THAT. SO THE ONE THING THE PROGRAM ELIMINATION COMMISSION DID DO IS TRY TO LOOK AT THINGS THAT WERE FEASIBLE. I THINK WE'LL LOOK AT SOME OF THEM AND ENACT SOME OF THEM, BUT AS FOR HOW MANY DOLLARS WE'LL SAVE, I WOULDN'T SAY IT'S GOING TO BE EVERYTHING THEY'RE PROPOSING.

Obradovich: REPRESENTATIVE MURPHY, SOME OF THOSE PROPOSALS ARE, AS SENATOR LAMBERTI MENTIONED, PRETTY CONTROVERSIAL. THEY'RE COMING IN AND SAYING THE STATE SHOULD CLOSE TWO MENTAL HEALTH INSTITUTIONS. THEY'VE GOT THE SENTENCING REFORM STUFF IN THERE. THE LAW SAYS THAT YOU'RE SUPPOSED TO TAKE THEIR RECOMMENDATIONS AND VOTE THEM UP OR DOWN WITHOUT AMENDMENTS. IS THAT REALLY REALISTIC AND DOESN'T -- AREN'T THESE KIND OF PROPOSALS DOOMED FROM THE START?

Murphy: IT'S NOT DOOMED FROM THE START. IT'S ONE OF THOSE THINGS THAT YOU'RE GOING TO LOOK AT. THE PROBLEM THAT YOU'RE GOING TO HAVE IS THAT, YEAH, WE'RE NOT SUPPOSED TO AMEND IT, WE'RE SUPPOSED TO VOTE IT STRAIGHT UP OR STRAIGHT DOWN, BUT YOU MAY HAVE LEGISLATORS WHO WILL SUPPORT PORTIONS OF IT THAT MAY DRAFT INDIVIDUAL BILLS LATER THAT WILL DEAL WITH THOSE PORTIONS. BUT I THINK THE PROBLEM YOU HAVE IS BECAUSE OF SOME OF THE POLITICALLY HOT-BUTTON ISSUES THEY'RE INVOLVING, I THINK IT WILL BE VERY DIFFICULT TO PASS THEM.

Beck: YOU'VE BOTH MENTIONED A WILLINGNESS TO LOOK AT SENTENCING REFORM BUT, AS YOU MENTIONED, THAT MEANS SOMETHING DIFFERENT TO EVERY SINGLE PERSON WE TALK TO, WHAT THAT REFORM IS. POLITICALLY HOW FAR CAN YOU GO TO REDUCE PRISON SENTENCES TO SAVE MONEY? SENATOR LAMBERTI?

Lamberti: OH, I'M NOT SURE THAT WE'RE GOING TO SAVE A LOT OF MONEY. I THINK WHAT WE END UP DOING IS TRYING TO STOP THE STRAIN OF INCREASING THE PRISONS AND HAVING TO BUILD NEW PRISONS. I THINK THAT'S REALLY WHERE THE LONG-TERM SAVINGS COME IN, TRYING TO STABILIZE THE PRISON POPULATION. CERTAINLY IT'S CONTROVERSIAL TO START TALKING ABOUT REDUCING SENTENCES, AND I'M NOT CONVINCED THAT SIMPLY REDUCING MANDATORY SENTENCES ACROSS THE BOARD IS THE WAY TO DO IT. I THINK THERE'S BETTER WAYS FOR US TO APPROACH IT, AND I THINK WE HAVE IDEAS. WE'VE PASSED BILLS IN THE SENATE OVER THE LAST FEW YEARS, AND I THINK WE'VE GOT A FRAMEWORK TO START TO WORK ON TO REDUCE SOME OF THOSE SENTENCES.

Beck: SO SENTENCES FOR CERTAIN CRIMES VERSUS GETTING RID OF THE 85 PERCENT MINIMUM?

Murphy: WE'RE GOING TO DO A COMBINATION. WE HAVE SOME OF THAT WHERE IT LOOKED AT SPECIFIC CRIMES AND SAID MAYBE THIS DOESN'T FIT INTO A CATEGORY OF A MANDATORY MINIMUM. WHEN YOU LOOK AT OTHER MANDATORY MINIMUMS, SOMETHING SIMILAR TO WHAT THE PROGRAM ELIMINATION COMMISSION RECOMMENDED -- PROVIDING SOME KIND OF A TRIGGER, MORE AUTHORITY FOR JUDGES -- WE'LL LOOK AT IT FROM THAT STANDPOINT AS WELL.

Yepsen: SENATOR LAMBERTI, IF I'M A SCHOOL SUPERINTENDENT OUT THERE, I'VE GOT TO MANAGE A BUDGET. WHAT ARE YOU GOING TO DO WITH ALLOWABLE GROWTH? WHAT CAN SCHOOL OFFICIALS EXPECT?

Lamberti: AT THIS POINT, WHAT I HAVE TOLD -- I'VE MET WITH SEVERAL OF MY SCHOOLS, IS I'VE SAID, WE'RE GOING TO DO OUR BEST TO MAINTAIN YOUR BUDGET. ANYTHING NEW, WHICH WOULD INCLUDE ALLOWABLE GROWTH, I THINK STILL REMAINS TO BE SEEN. AND I WOULD NOT, AT THIS POINT, COUNT ON IT. I WOULDN'T RULE IT OUT BUT I CERTAINLY WOULDN'T COUNT ON GETTING ANY MORE MONEY THAN YOU GOT THIS YEAR. OUR FIRST PRIORITY IS NOT TO CUT.

Yepsen: SO ZERO ALLOWABLE GROWTH?

Lamberti: I THINK THAT WOULD BE WISE TO PLAN ON RIGHT NOW, AND WE'LL SEE IF WE CAN DO ANY BETTER THAN THAT?

Yepsen: DO YOU SEE IT THE SAME WAY, MR. MURPHY?

Murphy: WELL, WE DON'T REACT TO THAT UNTIL WE SEE THE GOVERNOR'S PROPOSAL. IF THE GOVERNOR HAS AN INCREASE -- WE'LL HAVE TO LOOK AT HIS WHOLE BUDGET. BUT IF HE PROPOSES AN INCREASE FOR EDUCATION, I THINK DEMOCRATS WILL BE SUPPORTING THAT. SO I WOULDN'T SAY IT WOULD BE NECESSARILY ZERO, BUT IT COULD BE.

Obradovich: ONE OF THE OTHER GOVERNOR'S PROPOSALS WAS TO MERGE A NUMBER OF STATE DEPARTMENTS, ADMINISTRATIVE AGENCIES. THERE'S ALSO SOME TALK ABOUT MERGING ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT AND WORK FORCE DEVELOPMENT. SOME OF THOSE IDEAS WERE FLOATED LAST YEAR AND DIDN'T GET MUCH LEGISLATIVE INTEREST. DO YOU THINK THERE WILL BE MORE INTEREST THIS YEAR?

Murphy: WELL, LAST YEAR I SUPPORTED WHAT THE GOVERNOR WANTED TO DO. I THINK ONE THE THINGS THE LEGISLATURE HAS TO DO IS WE HAVE TO ALLOW THE GOVERNOR TO OPERATE STATE GOVERNMENT THE WAY HE SEES FIT. ONE OF THE THINGS THE GOVERNOR SPOKE OUT ABOUT IN THIS LAST ELECTION WAS HE THOUGHT WE NEEDED TO MAKE SURE THAT WE EXHAUSTED ALL AREAS OF STATE GOVERNMENT WHERE WE COULD STREAMLINE AND MAKE THINGS MORE EFFECTIVE. THOSE ARE THINGS THAT HE WANTED TO DO THAT THE LEGISLATURE DIDN'T ACT ON. I THINK WE SHOULD TAKE A CLOSE LOOK AT HIM -- HIS DIVISION OF ADMINISTRATIVE SERVICES AND LOOKING AT WORK FORCE DEVELOPMENT AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT TOGETHER. THERE IS SOME COST SAVINGS THERE, AND I THINK WE NEED TO GIVE HIM THE TOOLS THAT HE NEEDS TO WITHOUT HURTING OTHER STATE SERVICES.

Yepsen: SENATOR, ONE OF THE THINGS THE GOVERNOR WANTED TO DO IN THE PAST AND WENT NOWHERE WAS GETTING INTO THE ROAD FUND MONEY. DO YOU ANTICIPATE THIS LEGISLATURE DOING THAT?

Lamberti: NO. BUT AT THIS EARLY DATE, I WOULDN'T SAY WE WON'T GO THERE. I THINK WE WOULD RESIST GOING THERE BECAUSE I THINK IT HAS AN ECONOMIC IMPACT ON JOBS THAT WE DON'T WANT TO GO TO.

Yepsen: YOU SAID, FOR EXAMPLE, YOU MIGHT HAVE TO PAY TROOPERS' SETTLEMENT OUT OF THE ROAD FUND.

Lamberti: THAT'S A POSSIBILITY.

Yepsen: BEYOND THAT, WOULD THERE BE ANYTHING ELSE THAT YOU WOULD LOOK AT DOING?

Lamberti: I THINK A LOT OF THAT IS GOING TO BE DEPENDENT ON WHERE THE GOVERNOR IS. I THINK WE CAN AVOID THAT. I THINK WE HAVE OTHER SOURCES TO BALANCE THIS BUDGET, BUT YOU CAN'T GO INCREASING SPENDING AND AVOID THAT. WE JUST DON'T HAVE NEW MONEY IF YOU DON'T GO INTO THE ROAD FUND.

Yepsen: MR. MURPHY, WE'VE GOT ABOUT TEN SECONDS LEFT. THERE'S BEEN TALK ABOUT REALLOCATING THE ROAD FORMULA: CITIES GETS MORE, THE STATE GETS MORE, COUNTIES GET LESS. DO YOU EXPECT THIS LEGISLATURE TO CHANGE THE ROAD FORMULA?

Murphy: BEING FROM DUBUQUE, I'D LIKE THAT BUT I THINK IT WILL HAVE A TOUGH TIME IN THE LEGISLATURE?

Yepsen: SENATOR LAMBERTI?

Lamberti: I TEND TO AGREE WITH THAT.

Yepsen: WE'RE OUT OF TIME. THANK YOU BOTH. I'M SURE WE'LL HAVE YOU BOTH BACK TO TALK ABOUT THIS MORE AS THE SESSION PROGRESSES. SO THANKS FOR BEING WITH US TODAY.

Lamberti: THANKS.

Murphy: THANK YOU.

Yepsen: THAT'S IT FOR THIS WEEKEND'S EDITION OF "IOWA PRESS." DEAN BORG RETURNS TO THE "IOWA PRESS" TABLE NEXT WEEKEND, AND I HOPE YOU WILL AS WELL. WE'RE BACK WITH "IOWA PRESS" ON FRIDAY AT 6:30 AND SUNDAY AT NOON. UNTIL THEN, I'M DAVID YEPSEN OF "THE DES MOINES REGISTER." THANKS FOR JOINING US HERE ON STATEWIDE IOWA PUBLIC TELEVISION.

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