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Iowa Press #3021
January 10, 2003

Yepsen: THE 80TH IOWA GENERAL ASSEMBLY GAVELS OPEN ON MONDAY MORNING, BEGINNING ITS TWO-YEAR RUN IN THE SHADOW OF HUGE BUDGET DEFICITS.   WE'LL DISCUSS THE AGENDA FOR THE 2003 LEGISLATIVE SESSION WITH THE MEMBERS OF THE IOWA STATEHOUSE LEADERSHIP TEAMS  -- REPUBLICANS STEWART IVERSON  AND LIBBY JACOBS,  AND DEMOCRATS MIKE GRONSTAL  AND RICHARD MYERS --  ON THIS EDITION  OF "IOWA PRESS." 

 FUNDING FOR THIS PROGRAM  WAS PROVIDED BY "FRIENDS,"  THE IOWA PUBLIC TELEVISION FOUNDATION...   GENERATIONS OF FAMILIES AND FRIENDS WHO FEEL PASSIONATE ABOUT THE PROGRAMS THEY WATCH ON IOWA PUBLIC TELEVISION. 

 AND BY THE IOWA BANKERS ASSOCIATION...   FOR PERSONAL, BUSINESS,  AND COMMERCIAL NEEDS,  IOWA BANKS HELP IOWANS  REACH THEIR FINANCIAL GOALS;  AND BY THE ASSOCIATED GENERAL CONTRACTORS OF IOWA...  THE PUBLIC'S PARTNER IN BUILDING IOWA'S HIGHWAY, BRIDGE, AND MUNICIPAL UTILITY INFRASTRUCTURE. 

 ON STATEWIDE  IOWA PUBLIC TELEVISION,  THIS IS THE FRIDAY,  JANUARY 10 EDITION  OF "IOWA PRESS."   HERE IS DAVID YEPSEN. 

Yepsen: THE IOWA STATEHOUSE IS A BUSY PLACE THESE DAYS AS IOWA'S EXECUTIVE AND LEGISLATIVE BRANCHES COMPLETE THEIR PREPARATIONS FOR THE UPCOMING SESSION.   THE SLEEVES ARE ROLLED UP AND IT'S BACK TO WORK FOR IOWA'S 150 SENATORS AND REPRESENTATIVES, AND TODAY WE TALK AGENDA.   JOINING US ARE SENATOR STEWART IVERSON, A REPUBLICAN FROM DOWS WHO SERVES AS MAJORITY LEADER IN THE IOWA SENATE,  AND SENATOR MIKE GRONSTAL, DEMOCRAT FROM COUNCIL BLUFFS WHO'S THE SENATE'S MINORITY LEADER.   ALSO WITH US AT  THE "IOWA PRESS" TABLE:   FROM THE IOWA HOUSE,  OUR REPRESENTATIVE LIBBY JACOBS, A REPUBLICAN FROM WEST DES MOINES WHO SERVES AS MAJORITY WHIP;  AND REPRESENTATIVE RICHARD MYERS, THE DEMOCRAT FROM IOWA CITY WHO'S THE MINORITY LEADER IN THE IOWA HOUSE.   THANK YOU ALL FOR TAKING TIME TO BE WITH US TODAY PRIOR TO THE START OF THE SESSION.   REPRESENTATIVE JACOBS, THE SINGLE BIGGEST ISSUE FACING THE IOWA LEGISLATURE, WE'RE TOLD, IS MAKING THE ECONOMY GROW. 

 Jacobs: ABSOLUTELY. 

Yepsen: HOW WILL YOU DO THAT? 

 Jacobs: I THINK THERE ARE SEVERAL THINGS WE NEED TO LOOK AT.   FROM THE IOWA HOUSE REPUBLICAN PERSPECTIVE, ONE OF THE FIRST QUESTIONS WE'RE ASKING OURSELVES IS WHAT CAN WE DO THAT WILL GENERATE WEALTH FOR IOWANS.   AND THAT WEALTH COMES OUT IN TERMS OF BETTER PAYING JOBS, MORE JOBS, BUT ALSO WEALTH IN TERMS OF OUR LOCAL COMMUNITY ASSETS.   WHAT CAN WE DO TO MAKE SURE THAT WE'RE PLAYING OFF OF THE BEST THINGS THAT WE HAVE.   SO IN TERMS OF ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT, WE NEED TO ANSWER THAT QUESTION AND FIGURE OUT A WAY THAT WE CAN HELP THE LOCAL COMMUNITIES GROW AND PROSPER AND BRING IN THOSE HIGH PAYING JOBS THAT ARE OUT THERE. 

Yepsen: MR. MYERS, DEMOCRATS HAVE ANY PROBLEMS WITH ANY OF THAT? 

 Myers: NO.   I WOULD SAY THAT ONE OF THE THINGS WE WANT TO DO IS FOCUS ON BUSINESSES THAT ARE IN THE STATE NOW.   WE SPEND AN AWFUL LOT OF TIME TRYING TO RECRUIT BUSINESSES INTO THIS STATE, AT THE SAME TIME SORT OF LEAVING THE BUSINESSES THAT ARE HERE BEHIND.   AND I THINK THAT OUR COLLEGES AND UNIVERSITIES, AND COMMUNITY COLLEGES IN PARTICULAR, CAN HELP WITH THAT BY PROVIDING US SOME PUBLIC/PRIVATE PARTNERSHIPS THAT WILL HELP US GROW ECONOMICALLY.   I ALSO THINK WE NEED TO LOOK AT WAGES.   AND ALSO, AS FAR AS ENCOURAGING PEOPLE TO COME INTO THE STATE OR TO LOCATE HERE, LET'S SIMPLIFY OUR TAX STRUCTURE.

Yepsen: I WANT TO GET TO THAT, MR. MYERS.   BUT FIRST I WANT TO ASK YOU, SENATOR IVERSON, WHAT THOUGHTS DO YOU HAVE ABOUT WAYS THE IOWA SENATE CAN HELP MAKE THE ECONOMY GROW. 

 Iverson: WELL, I THINK WE'RE PRETTY MUCH IN UNISON WITH THE HOUSE AND THE SENATE.   WHETHER IT'S DEMOCRAT OR REPUBLICAN, I THINK WE'RE ALL HEADED DOWN THE SAME PATH.   I THINK THAT MAKING GOVERNMENT WHAT I CALL MORE BUSINESS FRIENDLY --  IF THERE'S A PROBLEM WITH GETTING THE APPLICATIONS TOGETHER OR GETTING PERMITS, WE'VE HAD THAT DISCUSSION WITH THE DNR TO TRY TO SPEED IT UP.   IT'S NOT LIKE WE'RE GOING TO DO AWAY WITH REGULATIONS.   WE'RE NOT GOING TO BE ABLE TO COMPETE WITH OTHER STATES WITH MONEY HANDOUTS.   I THINK THOSE DAYS ARE PRETTY WELL GONE.   BUT CAN WE DEVELOP A BETTER PARTNERSHIP BETWEEN THE BUSINESSES AND THE STATE GOVERNMENT?   I THINK SO AND I THINK THAT CAN GO TO HELP CREATE MORE OPPORTUNITIES. 

Yepsen: SENATOR GRONSTAL. 

 Gronstal: I THINK DEMOCRATS, FIRST OF ALL, I DON'T THINK WE HAVE A LOT OF ARGUMENTS ABOUT THIS.   I THINK WE'RE ALL LOOKING AT THIS WEALTH CREATION.   I THINK STEW IS RIGHT;  IT'S GOING TO BE TOUGH TO COME UP WITH TAX INCENTIVES OR GRANTS.   IT'S NOT A GOOD TIME TO BE TALKING ABOUT THAT.   I DON'T THINK WE DO A VERY GOOD JOB, AND WE WANT TO WORK WITH OUR RESEARCH INSTITUTIONS, OUR REGENTS INSTITUTIONS, ABOUT BETTER CONNECTING RESEARCH TO THE BUSINESS COMMUNITY IN IOWA.   SO WE WANT TO BUILD A PUBLIC/PRIVATE PARTNERSHIP.   I SAW A STUDY WHERE WE'VE GOT -- WE'RE LIKE FOURTH IN THE COUNTRY IN TERMS OF PATENTS ISSUED AT OUR INSTITUTIONS.   BUT WE'RE PROBABLY IN THE LOWER THIRD -- THE LOWEST THIRD WHEN IT COMES TO ACTUALLY TURNING THOSE PATENTS INTO COMMERCIAL PRODUCTS OR PROCESSES HERE INSIDE OUR STATE.   SO WE WANT TO WORK WITH THE REGENTS.   AND THEY DO SOME OF THIS PRETTY WELL RIGHT NOW, BUT WE WANT TO ENHANCE THAT EFFORT.

 Iverson: AND I THINK THAT'S WHERE THE VENTURE CAPITAL BILL THAT WE PUT TOGETHER LAST YEAR HELPS TOO, BECAUSE A LOT OF PEOPLE HAVE THE KNOW-HOW.   THEY DON'T KNOW HOW TO RUN A BUSINESS OR MAYBE DON'T WANT TO RUN A BUSINESS, BUT HOW DO WE PARTNER UP WITH PEOPLE THAT START THE BUSINESSES?   AND SO I THINK THERE'S A LOT OF GOOD THINGS THAT CAN COME OUT OF THAT. 

Yepsen: YOU KNOW, ALL OF THIS COLLEGIALITY IS SURPRISING. 

 Iverson: IT DOESN'T MAKE FOR YOU SELLING NEWSPAPERS. 

Yepsen: IT'S DOES FRUSTRATE PEOPLE IN THE NEWS BUSINESS, BUT IT DOES STRIKE ME AS A LITTLE BIT DIFFERENT THAN WHAT WE'VE SEEN AT THE START OF PAST SESSIONS;  YOU DO HAVE YOUR DIFFERENCES.   THIS YEAR IT SEEMS DIFFERENT.   AM I CORRECT IN MAKING THAT ASSESSMENT?

 Iverson: IT IS VERY MUCH DIFFERENT, DAVID.  FIRST OF ALL, WE'VE TALKED ABOUT THE PARTISANSHIP AND THINGS LIKE THAT.  AND OVER THE LAST FEW YEARS, I MEAN BOTH SIDES JOCKEY FOR CONTROL OF THE LEGISLATURE, THE GOVERNOR'S RACE, WHATEVER.   THE REDISTRICTING HAS COME AND GONE.   IN THE LEGISLATURE, THE MAKEUP IS WHERE IT IS TODAY, AND I THINK WE'RE PAST THAT.   I DON'T SEE US, EITHER SIDE, JOCKEYING FOR POSITION AS MUCH AS HAS BEEN IN THE PAST FEW YEARS. 

Yepsen: ALL RIGHT.   MR. MYERS, HOW LONG IS IT GOING TO LAST?   [ LAUGHTER ]

 Myers: I THINK ONE OF THE THINGS --  I THINK ONE OF THE THINGS THAT CAUSED THIS IS, FIRST OF ALL, WE'RE LISTENING TO WHAT PEOPLE ARE TELLING US.   THEY'RE TIRED OF IT.   AND ALSO, I HONESTLY --  MR. GIPP IS NOT HERE TODAY, THE MAJORITY LEADER, BUT I THINK HE SET THE TONE AS SOON AS HE GOT THIS JOB.   THE CAMPAIGN IS OVER AND NOW IT'S TIME TO GOVERN.  I'VE BEEN SAYING THAT FOR A LONG TIME, AND I'M GLAD TO HEAR HIM SAY THAT.   I THINK HE MEANS IT.   IT DOESN'T MEAN THAT WE DIDN'T ACCOMPLISH SOME THINGS IN THE LAST SESSION, BECAUSE WE DID.   AND THERE WAS A LOT OF TALK ABOUT BICKERING AND SO ON, BUT WE DID ACCOMPLISH SOME MAJOR THINGS.   THERE ARE FOUR OR FIVE MAJOR PIECES OF LEGISLATION.   BUT REGARDLESS OF THAT FACT, THE CAMPAIGN IS OVER AND WE NEED TO REMEMBER WHAT WE WERE SENT HERE FOR.

Yepsen: MR. MYERS BROUGHT UP THE TAX ISSUE.   SO, REPRESENTATIVE JACOBS, LET'S START.   THE BUDGET, TAXES, BUDGET CUTS, ALWAYS A BIG STORY IN THE LAST FEW YEARS.   WHAT TAXES WILL THE LEGISLATURE RAISE, AND WHAT PROGRAMS WILL YOU CUT TO BALANCE THE BUDGET? 

 Jacobs: WELL, FIRST OF ALL, I'VE NOT HEARD A HUGE GROUNDSWELL OF SUPPORT FOR RAISING TAXES.   I DON'T THINK THAT'S SOMETHING THAT A LOT OF LEGISLATORS WANT TO DO. 

Yepsen: EXCUSE ME, THE ATTORNEY GENERAL HAS CALLED FOR A CIGARETTE TAX INCREASE.  SENATOR MCCOY HAS CALLED FOR A CIGARETTE TAX INCREASE.  IS THAT A LIVE ROUND? 

 Jacobs: DAVID, IT'S CERTAINLY OUT THERE FOR DISCUSSION BUT, ONCE AGAIN, I'M NOT HEARING A GROUNDSWELL OF SUPPORT FOR RAISING TAXES.   THE ATTORNEY GENERAL CAN OFFER ALL THOSE PLANS, BUT HE'S NOT IN THE LEGISLATURE TO HAVE TO TAKE THOSE VOTES.   WHAT WE HAVE TO DO IS PRIORITIZE.   WHAT IS MOST IMPORTANT:   EDUCATION, HEALTH CARE,  HUMAN SERVICES,  THOSE KINDS OF THINGS.   AND WE REALLY HAVE TO HAVE A GUT-WRENCHING DISCUSSION OF WHAT IS IT THAT THE STATE ABSOLUTELY NEEDS TO DO FOR THE SAFETY AND WELFARE OF OUR RESIDENTS, AND WHAT ARE THOSE NICE-TO-HAVES THAT WE REALLY CAN'T AFFORD AT THIS TIME.   THAT'S NOT AN EASY DISCUSSION.   WE HAVE A BUMPER CROP OF NEW LEGISLATORS COMING IN WITH A LOT OF BRIGHT, NEW IDEAS.   WE ALL HAVE TO WORK TOGETHER TO FIGURE OUT WHAT OUR PRIORITIES ARE AND HOW WE DEAL WITH THAT.   IT'S NOT GOING TO BE EASY; THERE'S NO DOUBT.   BUT WE HAVE TO TAKE SOME OF THOSE TOUGH VOTES THIS SESSION.

Yepsen: MR. MYERS, WHAT TAXES WILL YOU RAISE?   WHAT PROGRAMS WILL YOU CUT? 

 Myers: WELL, WE HAVEN'T BEEN TALKING ABOUT RAISING TAXES AT ALL, AND WE SAID WE WOULD NOT.   I THINK FIRST AND FOREMOST, WE NEED TO COME INTO THE SESSION WITH THE IDEA THAT WE WANT TO LIVE WITHIN OUR MEANS.   BUT MY TALK ABOUT TAXES HAS TO DO WITH SIMPLIFYING IT.   I THINK WE NEED TO MAKE IOWA'S TAX RATES COMPETITIVE.   I THINK WE NEED TO MAKE THEM UNDERSTANDABLE AS WELL AS, OF COURSE, MAINTAIN A PROGRESSIVITY IN THOSE TAXES.   BUT RIGHT NOW I THINK WE HAVE ONE OF THE MOST COMPLICATED INCOME TAX SYSTEMS IN THE COUNTRY.   WE NEED TO CHANGE THAT.   WE'VE TALKED ABOUT IT FOR YEARS, AND IT'S TIME TO GET THAT DONE. 

Yepsen: SENATOR IVERSON, WHAT TAXES WILL YOU RAISE?   WHAT PROGRAMS WILL YOU CUT?  YOU'VE GOT A $411-MILLION HOLE HERE, AND THERE'S ONLY TWO WAYS YOU'VE GOT TO DO IT. 

 Iverson: WELL, FIRST OF ALL, WE'RE NOT GOING TO RAISE TAXES, UNLIKE SOME PEOPLE MAY WANT TO DO.   BUT MOST OF US ARE NOT GOING TO DO THAT, AND I DON'T BELIEVE THAT WILL HAPPEN.   CAN WE RESTRUCTURE THINGS DIFFERENTLY?   YES.   LIBBY TALKED ABOUT WHAT IS THE PRIORITY OF GOVERNMENT.   WE'VE HAD A FEW MEMBERS TALK TO ME AND SAID, "ALL RIGHT, I THINK WE NEED TO HAVE THE VERY FRANK DISCUSSION ON WHAT IS GOVERNMENT SUPPOSED TO DO."   ARE WE DOING THINGS THAT MAYBE WE HADN'T OUGHT TO DO AND DOING IT IN KIND OF A HAPHAZARD FASHION?   THEN MAYBE WE HADN'T OUGHT TO BE INTO IT.   I THINK THAT'S A VERY REAL DISCUSSION THAT WE HAVE TO HAVE.   I THINK OUR PRIORITIES HAVE PRETTY MUCH BEEN THE SAME WITH THE BUDGET AND LOOKING AT THE TAX STRUCTURE, TRYING TO GET SOMETHING DONE THERE.  ANOTHER THING THAT I THINK WE HAVE TO TAKE A VERY HARD LOOK AT INTO THIS YEAR IS REDRAWING THE LINES FOR THE JUDICIAL DISTRICTS.   WE NEED TO MATCH UP THE CASELOADS WITH THE JUDGES.   WE IN THE LEGISLATURE GET REDISTRICTED EVERY TEN YEARS.   IT'S BEEN THIRTY YEARS SINCE IT'S HAPPENED IN THE JUDICIAL DISTRICT.   AND I UNDERSTAND IT'S ALWAYS EASIER TO KEEP THE STATUS QUO.   THAT'S ONE THING  ABOUT IOWANS:   WE SAY WE WANT CHANGE AS LONG AS THE CHANGE HAPPENS TO SOMEBODY ELSE.   AND I UNDERSTAND THAT.  BUT IT'S SOME OF THOSE RESPONSIBILITIES THAT WE HAVE TO DO. 

Yepsen: SENATOR GRONSTAL,  TAXES OR CUTS? 

 Gronstal: WELL, FIRST OF ALL, I THINK THAT'S WHAT THE LEGISLATURE DOES EVERY YEAR WHEN THEY SPEND 100 OR 110 DAYS FIGURING THAT OUT.   BUT I THINK WE NEED TO STEP BACK, AND BEFORE WE TALK ABOUT THAT --  WE CAN MAKE THOSE BUDGET DECISIONS LATER.   WHAT WE OUGHT TO DO IS, AS STEW SUGGESTED A WHILE BACK, WE OUGHT TO START WITH A BLANK SHEET OF PAPER AND REALLY TALK AND GET AWAY FROM THE PARTISAN POLITICS, REALLY TALK ABOUT WHAT SHOULD OUR TAX SYSTEM LOOK LIKE FOR THE TWENTY-FIRST CENTURY:   WHAT DO WE NEED TO DO ON THAT?   AND THAT'S WHY SOME EFFORT TO STEP BACK FOR A MOMENT FROM THOSE BUDGET DECISIONS AND REALLY LOOK  -- WHAT IS THE KIND OF TAX SYSTEM THIS STATE OUGHT TO HAVE --  AND THEN MAKE THE DECISION ABOUT WHAT LEVELS OF REVENUE YOU NEED.   MAKE THAT DECISION LATER RATHER THAN JUST TACK ON A NEW TAX HERE OR A NEW TAX THERE OR A NEW PROVISION.   LET'S TAKE A REAL STRATEGIC APPROACH TO WHAT OUR TAX SYSTEM OUGHT TO LOOK LIKE. 

Yepsen: SENATOR IVERSON, AS YOUR COLLEAGUE MENTIONED, YOU SET OFF A LITTLE BUZZ A WHILE BACK BY SUGGESTING THERE BE A BLANK SHEET OF PAPER, AND YOU SAID EVEN AN OLD MONEYS AND CREDITS TAX WOULD BE ON THE TABLE.  IT WOKE UP A LOT OF YOUR REPUBLICAN FRIENDS.   [ LAUGHTER ]  NEVERTHELESS, THAT DID SEND QUITE A SIGNAL TO PEOPLE THAT THE MAJORITY LEADER IS WILLING TO PUT THAT KIND OF THING ON THE TABLE.   SO WHAT ARE YOU LOOKING AT?   WE'VE HEARD TALK ABOUT, AS REPRESENTATIVE MYERS HAS MENTIONED, GETTING RID OF FEDERAL DEDUCTABILITY AND LOWERING THE TAX RATES.   SENATOR MCKIBBEN IS TALKING ABOUT GOING TO A FLAT TAX.   WHAT DO YOU WANT TO SEE THE TAX CODE LOOK LIKE AT THE END OF THE DAY? 

 Iverson: WELL, I THINK THAT --  I HAVE PERSONALLY ASKED A NUMBER OF GROUPS, "IF YOU COULD SIT DOWN AND WRITE THE TAX CODE, WHAT WOULD YOU LIKE TO SEE?"   AND WE'RE GOING TO HAVE PEOPLE --  ON THE SENATE SIDE, SENATOR MCKIBBEN IS GOING TO BE LEADING THOSE DISCUSSIONS.   HE IS A TAX ATTORNEY.   WHEN WE LOOK AT INCOME TAX, WE'VE GOT SALES TAX --

Yepsen: BUT DO YOU KNOW, SENATOR, WHAT YOU WANT TO DO? 

 Iverson: DO I HAVE AN IDEA ON WHERE WE WANT TO GO?   YES.   FIRST OF ALL,  I WANT A SIMPLIFIED FORM.   I WANT SOMETHING THAT PEOPLE CAN UNDERSTAND.   WHAT WE'VE DONE IS ORIGINALLY START OUT WITH THE INCOME TAX, SALES TAX, PROPERTY TAX FROM FIFTY, SIXTY YEARS AGO, AND IT'S KIND OF BEEN HODGEPODGED TOGETHER SINCE THEN.   WE NEED SOMETHING TO SIMPLIFY IT.   JUST FOR AN EXAMPLE, WHEN WE LOOK AT SALES TAX, IOWA HAS A 5-PERCENT SALES TAX.   IF THERE WERE NOT ONE SINGLE EXEMPTION, YOU COULD REDUCE THE SALES TAX IN HALF AND THE REVENUE WOULD STAY ABOUT THE SAME.   THOSE ARE ISSUES THAT I THINK WE NEED TO LOOK AT, ALL THE EXEMPTIONS THAT ARE ALLOWED.   I'M NOT SAYING THIS IS A GOOD ONE OR A BAD ONE.   BUT I THINK IF WE START WITH A BLANK SHEET OF PAPER AND SAY WHAT IS THE BEST WAY TO DEVISE A TAX SYSTEM, THAT'S WHAT WE NEED TO BE DOING. 

Yepsen: SENATOR GRONSTAL, WHAT DO YOU WANT TO SEE ON A TAX?

 Gronstal: I WANT TO SEE US ADOPT A PROCESS THAT TALKS TO EVERYBODY AND SITS DOWN AND COMES TO A CONSENSUS ON TAXES.   WHAT SHOULD THE BALANCE BE BETWEEN INCOME, PROPERTY, AND SALES TAX?   DO YOU NEED A BALANCE BETWEEN THOSE?   WHAT MAKES SENSE FOR OUR STATE LOOKING FORWARD INTO THE FUTURE?   SO I THINK WE SHOULD PUT TOGETHER A PRETTY DRAMATIC, BIG COMMITTEE TO LOOK AT THIS.   AND MAYBE WE WON'T EVEN BE ABLE TO GET IT DONE THIS YEAR, BUT I THINK WE REALLY NEED TO START FROM SCRATCH.   WHAT SHOULD OUR TAX CODE LOOK LIKE?   WE ALL KNOW WE NEED A BALANCED SET OF REVENUES.   WE CAN'T BE OVERLY DEPENDENT ON ONE.  WE ALL KNOW WE HAVE TO BE COMPETITIVE WITH OTHER STATES, SO WE NEED TO LOOK AT THAT.   WHAT SHOULD OUR TAX SYSTEM LOOK LIKE?   I DON'T KNOW THE ANSWER TODAY, BUT I THINK WE CAN PUT TOGETHER AN EFFORT --

 Iverson: THE OTHER THING YOU HAVE TO BE CAREFUL ABOUT, NOT TAKE THE EASY WAY OUT AND JUST DO A PORTION OF THE FEDERAL TAX OR SOMETHING, BECAUSE EVERY TIME THAT -- IF CONGRESS MAKES A CHANGE, IT AFFECTS US.   I THINK THAT'S ONE THING WE HAVE TO BE VERY COGNIZANT ABOUT. 

 Myers: WE NEED TO STOP BEING JERKED AROUND BY THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT ON OUR TAX SYSTEM, AND WE NEED TO HAVE PEOPLE BE ABLE TO UNDERSTAND IT. 

Yepsen: MR. MYERS, WHAT DO YOU HAVE IN MIND, THEN, FOR A TAX CODE?

 Myers: WELL, FIRST OF ALL, I ALREADY MENTIONED THAT I WANTED TO SIMPLIFY THAT CODE.   OBVIOUSLY, I WANT TO GET RID OF FEDERAL DEDUCTABILITY AND I WANT TO LOWER THOSE RATES AND MAKE IT COMPETITIVE.   IF WE DID THAT PROPERLY, WE COULD DO IT IN A REVENUE-NEUTRAL WAY, AND WE COULD ALSO MAKE IOWA ABOUT TWENTY-SECOND OR TWENTY-THIRD IN THE COUNTRY AS FAR AS TAX RATES, WHERE WE'RE NOW ABOUT EIGHTH OR NINTH.   SO IT'S SORT OF AN ASTERISK THAT CHARGES OFF THE ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT PEOPLE.   I KNOW THAT A LOT OF CHAMBERS OF COMMERCE AND BUSINESS GROUPS ARE ASKING US TO DO THIS, AND I THINK IT'S TIME WE LISTENED TO THEM. 

Yepsen: REPRESENTATIVE JACOBS? 

 Jacobs: ONCE AGAIN, SIMPLIFICATION OF THE TAX CODE.   BUT THE INTERCONNECTIVITY...  SHOULD WE BE FUNDING SOME PROGRAMS THROUGH PROPERTY TAX?   EVERY TIME WE DO AN ADJUSTMENT TO ALLOWABLE GROWTH, THAT ULTIMATELY RAISES PROPERTY TAXES.   WE HAVE TO HELP PEOPLE UNDERSTAND THE INTERCONNECTIVITY.   WE REALLY NEED TO SIT BACK AND SAY WHAT IS IT THAT WE NEED THAT DESIGNS A SYSTEM THAT STREAMLINES THE PROCESS AND USES THE TECHNOLOGY THAT'S OUT THERE TO TRY TO COORDINATE IT ALL.  WE ABSOLUTELY HAVE TO DO THAT. 

Yepsen: NOW, THE SKEPTIC IN ME SAYS YOU'RE REALLY GOING TO HAVE A BACK-DOOR TAX INCREASE, THAT THIS IS REALLY A RUSE THAT AT THE END OF THE DAY YOU'RE GOING TO WIND UP, IN SOME FASHION, TAKING MORE FROM THE TAXPAYERS THAN YOU DO NOW. 

 Jacobs: DAVID, WE DO NOT WANT TO DO THAT, AND I THINK IT'S ON BOTH SIDES OF THE AISLE, I THINK IT'S IN BOTH CHAMBERS.   NO ONE WANTS TO RAISE TAXES.   I GO BACK TO THE FIRST STATEMENT I MADE, WHICH IS OUR OVERALL GOAL IS TO HELP GENERATE WEALTH FOR IOWANS.   RAISING TAXES, WHETHER PEOPLE SEE IT AS OUT FRONT OR BACK DOOR, IS NOT SOMETHING THAT WE WANT TO DO -- 

 Iverson: WE WOULD ONLY DO THAT TO REPORTERS.   [ LAUGHTER ]

Yepsen: ALL RIGHT.   SENATOR GRONSTAL, HOW DO DEMOCRATS FEEL ABOUT THAT?   IS THIS GOING TO BE A REVENUE-NEUTRAL PROPOSITION FOR THE IOWA TAXPAYER, OR DO YOU THINK FOLKS -- SOME FOLKS ARE GOING TO WIND UP PAYING MORE? 

 Gronstal: FIRST OF ALL, NOTHING WE'VE DONE, WITH ALL DUE RESPECTS TO MY COLLEAGUES, WE HAVE RAISED TAXES IN THE LAST COUPLE YEARS.   WE DO IT IN LITTLE WAYS.   AS PART OF OUR OVERALL SCHOOL AID FORMULA, WE TOLD PEOPLE TO RAISE PROPERTY TAXES.   I REALLY DON'T WANT TO FOCUS ON OUR AREAS OF DISAGREEMENT, BECAUSE THERE WERE SOME ON PROPERTY TAXES LAST SESSION WHEN THE CREDITS WERE CUT.   BUT LET'S NOT --  LET'S NOT FOCUS ON WHERE WE DISAGREE.   THERE ARE TAX --  WE RAISED A VARIETY OF FEES LAST YEAR.   THOSE ARE ESSENTIALLY TAX INCREASES, SO THERE HAVE BEEN SOME.   BUT RIGHT NOW I DON'T SEE ANY STRONG INTEREST IN OUR CAUCUS FOR ANY KIND OF LARGE TAX INCREASES. 

Yepsen: REPRESENTATIVE MYERS, ONE OF THE BIG TAX ISSUES THAT FACES THE LEGISLATURE IS YOU OWE SOME REFUNDS TO THE GAMBLING TRACKS.   YOU LOST A SUPREME COURT DECISION.   WHAT IS IT, $112 MILLION? 

 Myers: IT'S $112 MILLION. 

Yepsen: HOW ARE YOU GOING TO PAY THAT BACK? 

 Myers: WELL, I HONESTLY BELIEVE THAT WE NEED TO SIT DOWN AND NEGOTIATE HOW THAT WOULD HAPPEN.   I'M NOT SURE THAT WE'RE GOING TO HAVE TO PAY IT BACK IN ANY LUMP SUM.   I'M NOT REALLY WORRIED ABOUT THAT RIGHT NOW.   BUT FIRST OF ALL, THERE ARE A NUMBER OF STEPS TO GO THROUGH.  THE GOVERNOR HAS A TASK FORCE NOW THAT'S GOING TO MAKE A REPORT TO US.   REGARDLESS, WHAT I CALLED FOR WHEN IT HAPPENED -- WHEN WE FIRST FOUND OUT ABOUT THIS IS THE LEADERS IN THE HOUSE AND THE SENATE, BOTH REPUBLICANS AND DEMOCRATS NEED TO GET TOGETHER AND HELP FORM THOSE COALITIONS THAT WILL SOLVE THIS PROBLEM AND IN SOME CASES, AS MUCH AS NECESSARY, NEGOTIATE WITH THE GAMING INDUSTRY IF WE ARE, IN FACT, FORCED TO PAY THAT $112 MILLION. 

Yepsen: DOES ANYBODY AROUND THIS TABLE DISAGREE WITH WHAT HE'S JUST SAID? 

 Jacobs: NO.   BUT WE ALSO HAVE TO MAKE SURE THAT --  THE GROUP THAT WAS LOOKING -- FIRST LOOKED AT JUST THE DIFFERENCE IN TAXES WHEN THE PROGRESSIVE SCALE WAS TAKEN AWAY, AND SO WE SAID WE WANTED TO BE REVENUE NEUTRAL.   THAT WAS $35 MILLION A YEAR.   NOW WE HAVE A NEW PROBLEM,  $112 MILLION.   WE HAVE TO ASK:   IS THAT PART OF BEING REVENUE NEUTRAL AS WELL?   SO WE'RE GOING TO TRY TO WRAP ALL THAT TOGETHER.   THAT'S WHY I THINK THERE'S GOING TO BE PROBABLY A DISCUSSION ON THE GAMBLING SITUATION EARLIER IN THE SESSION THAN LATER, WHICH IS UNUSUAL I KNOW HISTORICALLY, BUT BECAUSE WE HAVE TO GET OUR HANDS AROUND WHAT IS OUT THERE AND WHAT'S THE BUDGET GOING TO BE. 

Yepsen: SENATOR GRONSTAL, ONE IDEA THAT I'VE HEARD FLOATING AROUND THE STATEHOUSE IS YOU DON'T PAY THE TRACKS A REFUND, YOU JUST GIVE THEM A TAX CREDIT PROSPECTIVELY OVER AND THEY CAN JUST WRITE IT OFF OVER A PERIOD OF YEARS.   IS THAT A LIVE ROUND? 

 Gronstal: THERE ARE CERTAINLY WAYS TO DEAL WITH THE RETROACTIVITY, WITH THE AMOUNT OF MONEY THAT WE HAVE TO PAY BACK.   AND I'M REASONABLY CONFIDENT THAT THE INDUSTRY WILL WORK WITH US ON THAT.   WE HAVE TO BE CAREFUL ABOUT THIS TOO, THOUGH.  GAMBLING IN IOWA IS SUBJECT TO COMPETITION.   AND LAST YEAR WE TOOK A LOOK AT THE INSURANCE INDUSTRY, OF THOUSANDS OF JOBS CONNECTED WITH THAT, AND DEALT WITH THE COMPETITIVE ISSUE ON THE INSURANCE PREMIUM TAX AND CUT THAT BECAUSE WE WERE CONCERNED ABOUT THOSE JOBS.   I THINK WE HAVE TO KEEP THAT IN MIND WITH THIS -- WITH THIS WHOLE ISSUE TOO.   NEBRASKA, IF A FEW YEARS, YOU MAY WANT IT REVENUE NEUTRAL.  WELL, IF NEBRASKA, NEXT YEAR, ADOPTS GAMBLING, IT'S NOT GOING TO BE REVENUE NEUTRAL IN COUNCIL BLUFFS.   THEY'RE GOING TO LOSE MARKET SHARE IN THAT COMMUNITY.   SO I THINK WE'VE GOT TO REALLY TAKE A GOOD, HARD LOOK AT THIS AND BE PRETTY CAREFUL ABOUT NOT LOSING PARTS OF THIS INDUSTRY. 

Yepsen: SENATOR IVERSON, I WANT TO SWITCH GEARS TO ANOTHER TAX ISSUE, THE GAS TAX.   SOME OF THE URBAN CHAMBERS OF COMMERCE HAVE COME TO YOU FOLKS IN THE LEGISLATURE AND HAVE SAID IT'S TIME TO REALLOCATE THE WAY YOU DISTRIBUTE THE ROAD USE FORMULA, GIVE MORE MONEY TO THE STATE AND CITIES AND LESS TO THE COUNTIES.   IS THAT GOING TO FLY? 

 Iverson: THAT'S A DISCUSSION WE HAVEN'T HAD YET.   FOR ME, PERSONALLY, I CAN SAY THAT I HAVEN'T HEARD A COMPELLING REASON WHY TO DO THAT, BUT THAT'S A DISCUSSION THAT WE'LL CERTAINLY HAVE.   MY GUT FEELING SAYS IT PROBABLY WILL NOT HAPPEN, BUT I DON'T KNOW THAT TO BE A FACT EITHER.   WE'RE GOING TO HAVE TO HAVE THOSE DISCUSSIONS IN CAUCUS. 

Yepsen: WHAT ABOUT RAISING TAXES -- OR RAISING THE FEE ON PICKUP TRUCKS?   YOU KNOW, IN THE OLD DAYS YOU USED TO GIVE FARMERS A TAX BREAK BY HAVING A VERY LOW FEE ON PICKUP TRUCKS.   TODAY MOST PICKUPS ARE DRIVEN BY URBAN COWBOYS.   NOW, I'LL GUARANTEE YOU THAT THE PICKUPS IN THE PARKING RAMP ACROSS FROM MY OFFICE ARE A LOT NICER THAN THE ONES THAT ARE ON THE SQUARE IN DOWS.   SO ISN'T IT TIME TO RAISE THE TAX ON PICKUP TRUCK FEES, RAISE THE FEE ON PICKUP TRUCKS? 

 Iverson: AND THAT'S A DISCUSSION WE'VE NOT HAD UP TO NOW.   IT'S KIND OF BEEN MENTIONED ONCE IN A WHILE.   WILL I GO BACK TO OUR CAUCUS AND HAVE THAT DISCUSSION?   YES.   CAN I SIT HERE TODAY AND SAY WE'RE GOING TO DO IT OR NOT DO IT?   NO.   MOST OF OUR FOLKS ARE RELUCTANT TO JUST INCREASE THINGS FOR THE SAKE OF INCREASING, BUT I'M CERTAINLY WILLING TO TAKE THAT TO OUR CAUCUS AND HAVE A DISCUSSION.   I THINK THAT'S FAIR, BECAUSE OVER TIME IT HAS CHANGED.   IT USED TO BE, YOU KNOW, MAINLY LIKE FARMERS AND BUSINESSES HAD PICKUPS.  NOW THE PICKUPS ARE VERY NICE AND THERE'S A LOT OF OTHER PEOPLE THAT REALLY HAVE IT IN PLACE OF A CAR. 

Yepsen: MR. MYERS, I'VE GOT WAY TOO MANY ISSUES AND NOT ENOUGH TIME, SO I WANT TO GO TO ANOTHER SUBJECT.   VISION IOWA....   WHAT'S GOING TO HAPPEN TO THAT PROGRAM?   CAN YOU SCRAPE TOGETHER ANY MONEY TO KEEP IT GOING? 

 Myers: I REALLY DON'T KNOW THAT YET BECAUSE I THINK THAT'S MAYBE ONE OF THE LAST DECISIONS WE MAKE AS FAR AS THE BUDGET IS CONCERNED.  BUT I WANT TO MAKE IT CLEAR THAT I'M A SUPPORTER OF VISION IOWA.   I THOUGHT WE NEEDED TO INVEST IN OURSELVES, ESPECIALLY WHEN YOU'RE IN TROUBLE.   THAT'S WHAT YOU DO IN BUSINESS, AND THAT'S WHAT WE WERE DOING WITH VISION IOWA.  AND I THINK YOU'VE SEEN SOME EVIDENCE AROUND THE STATE THAT THIS THING WORKS.   NOW, WHETHER WE HAVE ENOUGH MONEY TO GET INVOLVED IN THAT THIS YEAR, GIVEN THE ECONOMY SITUATION, IS PROBLEMATIC.   BUT REGARDLESS, I WANT TO DO WHAT I CAN TO EXPAND THAT PROGRAM.   IF WE DON'T DO IT THIS YEAR, WE CERTAINLY NEED TO CONSIDER IT NEXT YEAR IF POSSIBLE. 

Yepsen: SENATOR GRONSTAL, HOW ABOUT EXPANDING IT BUT TARGETING IT MORE AT SMALLER TOWNS?   YOU'VE DONE A LOT OF THAT STUFF IN LARGER COMMUNITIES.   IS IT TIME TO TAKE A LOOK AT SORT OF THE MEDIUM-SIZED COMMUNITY IN IOWA AND START DOING MORE THERE? 

 Gronstal: I THINK -- I'LL JUST REPEAT WHAT REPRESENTATIVE MYERS SAID.   I DO THINK IT'S IMPORTANT FOR US TO CONTINUE IT AND I THINK THAT DISCUSSION ABOUT HOW YOU TARGET IT IS PART OF WHAT'S INTERESTING ABOUT A NEW SESSION WITH 40 NEW HOUSE MEMBERS AND 18 NEW SENATORS.   THERE'S NEW PEOPLE REPRESENTING NEW DISTRICTS.   THAT'S SOMETHING THAT THIS SESSION IS GOING TO HAVE TO SORT OUT FOR A WHILE:   WHO ARE THESE NEW PEOPLE AND WHAT'S THE CHARACTER OF THE DISTRICT THEY REPRESENT?   SO WE'VE BECOME A LITTLE MORE URBAN, QUITE A BIT MORE SUBURBAN, AND A LITTLE LESS RURAL.

Yepsen: SO WHAT YOU'RE SAYING IS THAT THERE WILL BE NO EARLY ADJOURNMENTS THIS YEAR. 

 Iverson: THE OTHER THING, TO BE PERFECTLY HONEST, WE'RE NOT GOING TO PUT MORE MONEY INTO VISION IOWA THIS YEAR.   I'M NOT SAYING THE PROGRAM IS BAD OR ANYTHING, BUT THIS PARTICULAR YEAR WE'RE NOT GOING TO PUT MORE MONEY. 

Yepsen: WHY?   BECAUSE YOU JUST DON'T HAVE IT? 

 Iverson: WE'VE GOT OTHER PRIORITIES HIGHER. 

 Myers: DON'T FORGET ABOUT THE SMALL TOWNS TOO.   YOU'VE GOT THOSE COMMUNITY ATTRACTION GRANTS THAT ARE ALSO THERE FOR SMALLER ENTITIES.   ONE OF THE REASONS WHY VISION IOWA HAS NOT GONE TO SMALLER TOWNS, THERE'S NOT BEEN THE PRIVATE MATCH OR THE PUBLIC MATCH INVOLVED THERE.   THERE'S NOT BEEN THE ATTRACTION.   BUT THERE IS ANOTHER PROGRAM FOR DEALING WITH THAT. 

Yepsen: SENATOR IVERSON, YOU WERE INSTRUMENTAL IN GETTING A REWRITE OF THE HOG CONFINEMENT LEGISLATION THROUGH THE LEGISLATURE LAST YEAR.   A LOT OF PEOPLE ARE SAYING THAT HOG LOT BILL NEEDS SOME TWEAKING, THERE ARE THINGS IN IT THAT NEED TO BE CHANGED.   CAN YOU TWEAK A HOG LOT BILL, OR ONCE YOU'RE INTO IT, YOU'RE INTO A HUGE DEBATE OVER LIVESTOCK CONFINEMENTS? 

 Iverson: WELL, I DID HAVE A MEETING THE OTHER DAY WITH SOME FOLKS FROM THE DNR.   AND I THINK, OVERALL, IT'S DOING PRETTY MUCH WHAT WE WANT OR AT LEAST DOWN THE PATH.   ALL THE RULES ARE NOT IN PLACE YET, AND THAT HAS A GREAT IMPACT ON WHAT THE OUTCOME IS GOING TO BE AS TO HOW THE RULES ARE WRITTEN.   THERE MAY BE A FEW LITTLE THINGS THAT I'M GOING TO SAY TO TWEAK AROUND THE EDGES.   WILL WE GET INTO A FULL-BLOWN LIVESTOCK DEBATE AGAIN?   NO, I DON'T THINK SO.   I THINK MOST OF US REALIZE THE LIVESTOCK INDUSTRY IN IOWA IS GOOD FOR IOWA.   AND THEN HOW DO WE BALANCE THE PRODUCERS VERSUS THE PEOPLE LIVING AROUND THE AREA AND THE ENVIRONMENT.   AND I THINK WE CAN ACCOMPLISH THAT WITHOUT HAVING -- START AT SQUARE ONE AGAIN. 

Yepsen: REPRESENTATIVE JACOBS, THE PROGRAM ELIMINATION COMMISSION HAS SUGGESTED THE LEGISLATURE LOOK AT THE WAY YOU SENTENCE CRIMINALS. 

 Jacobs: MM-HMM, ABSOLUTELY. 

Yepsen: COUNTY ATTORNEYS ARE SAYING YOU OUGHT TO BE CAREFUL HERE ABOUT LETTING FOLKS OUT OF JAIL.  WHAT'S THE LEGISLATURE GOING TO DO WITH THIS THING THAT'S SORT OF GENERICALLY CALLED SENTENCING REFORM? 

 Jacobs: WELL, I THINK YOU'LL SEE A COMMITMENT THAT WE WILL TAKE ON AND PASS LEGISLATION REGARDING SENTENCING REFORM.   WE CERTAINLY HAVE TO LOOK AT OUR ENTIRE CORRECTION SYSTEM.   WE NEED TO MAKE SURE THAT WE HAVE THE RIGHT AMOUNT OF GUARDS, THAT THEY'RE BEING PAID A GOOD WAGE, AND THAT IS ALL BEING HANDLED.   THERE'S A LOT OF INTEREST IN COMMUNITY-BASED CORRECTIONS.   CAN WE GET PEOPLE BACK INTO THE COMMUNITY WHO ARE NOT A THREAT TO PUBLIC SAFETY?   I THINK THOSE ARE THE KINDS OF THINGS THAT WE'LL BE LOOKING AT FIRST AND FOREMOST OF WHO'S BEING INCARCERATED, ARE THERE OTHERS THAT COULD BE OUT ACTUALLY CONTRIBUTING BACK TO THEIR WORK AND TRYING TO GET SOME THINGS ACCOMPLISHED ON A PERSONAL BASIS THAT WAY, IF THEY'RE STILL UNDER THE WATCH OF A COMMUNITY-BASED SYSTEM.   I CERTAINLY SEE, WITH SENATOR MADDOX HEADING UP THE JUDICIARY COMMITTEE IN THE HOUSE, NOW THAT HE'LL BECOME A REPRESENTATIVE INSTEAD OF A SENATOR, AND HE CERTAINLY HAS COMMITTED HIMSELF TO SENTENCING REFORM.   SO I THINK YOU'LL SEE QUITE A BIT OF DISCUSSION AND A BILL COMING OUT OF THE HOUSE ON THAT. 

Yepsen: DO YOU AGREE WITH THAT, MR. MYERS? 

 Myers: YES, I DO.   I THINK THAT REPRESENTATIVE JACOBS IS HEADED IN THE RIGHT DIRECTION, AND I THINK THIS IS THE DIRECTION WE WANTED TO HEAD FOR A LONG TIME.   WE NEED TO DO THIS. 

Yepsen: I WANT TO ASK YOU ABOUT ANOTHER SUBJECT.   YOU HAVE A LOT OF CONSTITUENTS, MR. MYERS, WHO ARE PUBLIC EMPLOYEES.   WE HAVE A LOT OF PUBLIC EMPLOYEES WHO WATCH THIS PROGRAM.   THEY'RE FEELING KIND OF JERKED AROUND, I MUST TELL YOU.   A LOT OF LAYOFFS AND CONCERN ABOUT JOB SECURITY AND PAY, FURLOUGHS.   NOW, YOU'RE ON THE BOARD OF DIRECTORS FOR THIS COMPANY CALLED STATE GOVERNMENT.   CAN YOU ASSURE YOUR EMPLOYEES THAT WE'RE DONE LAYING THEM OFF?

 Myers: CAN I ASSURE THEM? 

Yepsen: YES. 

 Myers: I THINK THAT WOULD BE VERY DIFFICULT TO DO, REGARDLESS OF WHAT SORT OF ENTERPRISE YOU WERE RUNNING.   BUT I CAN SAY THIS MUCH: WE NEED TO MAKE A COMMITMENT TO THOSE PUBLIC EMPLOYEES AND RESPECT THE JOBS THAT THEY'RE DOING.   IN PLACES LIKE THE CORRECTIONAL SYSTEM, FOR EXAMPLE, WE ARE WAY UNDERSTAFFED.  NOT ONLY IS IT HARD TO DO THAT JOB, BUT IT'S PROBABLY UNSAFE THE WAY WE'VE GOT IT RIGHT NOW.   WE NEED TO MAKE A COMMITMENT TO DO THAT. 

Yepsen: BUT YOU NEED MORE MONEY, DO YOU NOT, AT THE START OF THE SESSION TO HANDLE THAT CORRECTION PROBLEM? 

 Myers: I'M CERTAINLY IN FAVOR OF THAT.   I WANT TO SEE A SUPPLEMENTAL APPROPRIATION, AND I UNDERSTAND THAT MAY HAPPEN. 

Yepsen: SENATOR GRONSTAL, MORE LAYOFFS AS A RESULT? 

 Gronstal: I'M HOPEFUL WE CAN AVOID LAYOFFS.   WE'VE GOT SOME PRETTY CRITICAL SITUATIONS IN OUR PRISONS, BUT WE ALSO HAVE PLACES WHERE, IF YOU'RE CALLING THE DEPARTMENT OF HUMAN SERVICES IN SOME SMALL TOWNS IN IOWA, YOU'RE GETTING AN ANSWERING MACHINE.   AND THAT'S -- YOU KNOW, THAT'S A REAL PROBLEM OUT THERE.   SO WE ARE HAVING A TROUBLE DELIVERING CRITICAL STATE SERVICES IN PLACES, AND I THINK WE OUGHT TO DO EVERYTHING WE CAN TO AVOID LAYOFFS. 

Yepsen: REPRESENTATIVE JACOBS, COLLEGE STUDENTS AT THE STATE UNIVERSITIES ARE COMPLAINING ABOUT RISING TUITIONS. 

 Jacobs: ABSOLUTELY.

Yepsen: ANY HOPE THAT TUITION INCREASES CAN BE AT LEAST MUTED A LITTLE BIT, OR ARE THEY STILL LOOKING AT BIGGER TUITIONS? 

 Jacobs: I DO NOT KNOW.   OBVIOUSLY, THE BOARD OF REGENTS MAKES DECISIONS ON THE TUITION INCREASES.   WE HOPE TO BE ABLE TO PROVIDE FUNDING TO ADDRESS THAT ISSUE.   OBVIOUSLY THAT'S PART OF THE ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT GROWTH ISSUE FOR US AS WELL.   WE WANT TO KEEP THOSE STUDENTS HERE.   BUT UNTIL WE FIGURE OUT THE BUDGET AND HOW WE PLUG SOME OF THE HOLES, THAT'S THE DISCUSSION WE HAVE TO HAVE ON PRIORITIES AND WHERE DOES THE TUITION FALL INTO THAT.   WE STILL OFFER A VERY GOOD BARGAIN AT OUR PUBLIC INSTITUTIONS WHEN YOU COMPARE THEM TO LIKE ORGANIZATIONS IN THEIR -- WITH THEIR CONFERENCES, THE BIG 10, THE BIG 12, OR WITH OTHER MIDWESTERN SCHOOLS.   SO WE HAVE TO REMEMBER WE NEED TO FOCUS ON THE VALUE AS WELL AS JUST THE DIRECT DOLLAR COST. 

Yepsen: WE'VE GOT JUST A MINUTE LEFT, SO LET'S CUT IT FOUR WAYS.   QUICK SOUND BITE FROM EACH OF YOU.   SENATOR GRONSTAL, AT THE END OF THE DAY, WHAT WILL ANYONE REMEMBER ABOUT THIS LEGISLATIVE SESSION?   HOW WILL LIFE IN IOWA BE DIFFERENT COME JULY 1?

 Gronstal: I HOPE WHAT THEY'LL REMEMBER IS THAT WE HAVE WORKED TOGETHER AND STRATEGICALLY PLANNED FOR THE FUTURE AND MADE SOME PRETTY DRAMATIC CHANGES THAT ARE GOING TO HELP TRANSFORM THIS ECONOMY INTO A TWENTY-FIRST CENTURY ECONOMY.

Yepsen: SENATOR IVERSON? 

 Iverson: ADDING ONTO WHAT MIKE SAID, I THINK OUR BIGGEST CHALLENGE THIS YEAR IS TO TRY AND CREATE MORE OPPORTUNITIES FOR PEOPLE. 

Yepsen: REPRESENTATIVE MYERS? 

 Myers: I THINK ONE OF THE THINGS WE NEED TO DO IS TO START OUT WITH THE AREAS WHERE WE HAVE AGREEMENT RIGHT AWAY.   WE ENUMERATED SOME OF THOSE YESTERDAY, AND THERE'S BEEN DISCUSSIONS GOING ON IN BOTH PARTIES ON THIS ISSUE -- ON SOME OF THESE ISSUES LIKE THE PRISON SYSTEM AND THE PROPERTY TAX CREDITS.   WE NEED TO START OUT ON THINGS WE AGREE ON AND GET THOSE THINGS OUT OF THE WAY AND THEN START SPENDING TIME ON THE BUDGET. 

Yepsen: REPRESENTATIVE JACOBS? 

 Jacobs: AT THE END OF THE SESSION, THEY SHOULD BE ABLE TO JUDGE US ON HOW WE ANSWERED THREE QUESTIONS:   HAVE WE GENERATED WEALTH FOR IOWANS;  HAVE WE IMPROVED THE STATE'S FINANCIAL SITUATION;  AND HOW HAVE WE IMPROVED STUDENT PERFORMANCE?   I THINK THOSE ARE THE THREE THINGS THAT WE CAN ALL BE MEASURED ON ACROSS PARTY LINES. 

Yepsen: THANK YOU.   AND THANK YOU ALL FOR COMING OUT HERE AND BEING PART OF THIS.   WE'LL HAVE YOU ALL BACK TO TALK ABOUT ALL THIS STUFF IN GREATER DETAIL.   WE LEAVE YOU WITH SEVERAL PROGRAM REMINDERS.   ON TUESDAY OF THIS COMING WEEK, GOVERNOR TOM VILSACK ADDRESSES A JOINT SESSION OF THE IOWA GENERAL ASSEMBLY.   IT'S THE GOVERNOR'S  "CONDITION OF THE STATE" MESSAGE, AND IOWA PUBLIC TELEVISION WILL BE THERE,  LIVE AT 10 A.M. FROM THE IOWA STATEHOUSE, WITH A REBROADCAST SCHEDULED FOR 6:30 P.M. TUESDAY EVENING.   ON THURSDAY EVENING, A SPECIAL EDITION OF "LIVING IN IOWA" WITH MORGAN HALGREN COMES OUR WAY.   FROM TERRACE HILL, MORGAN HAS A PERSONAL AND CANDID CONVERSATION WITH IOWA'S FIRST COUPLE.  THE FOCUS IS ON THE VILSACK FAMILY AND A PERSONAL LOOK AT THEIR THIRTY-YEAR PARTNERSHIP.   THEN ON FRIDAY OF THIS COMING WEEK, IT'S INAUGURATION DAY.   TOM VILSACK AND SALLY PEDERSON TAKE THE OATH OF OFFICE FOR THEIR SECOND FOUR-YEAR TERMS AS GOVERNOR AND LIEUTENANT GOVERNOR.   THE LIVE BROADCAST IS HERE AT 9:30 A.M., WITH A REBROADCAST SCHEDULED FRIDAY EVENING AT 9.   AND ONE FINAL REMINDER:  SUNDAY AT 8 P.M.  IOWA PUBLIC TELEVISION BEGINS A UNIQUE EFFORT IN VOLUNTEERISM.   IT'S THE FIRST-EVER "VOLUNTEER IOWA."   IT'S A PHONE-IN VOLUNTEER-A-THON, IF YOU WILL, TO PLEDGE HOURS TO A WORTHY CAUSE OF YOUR CHOICE.  SO TAKE TIME TO JOIN IOWA PUBLIC TELEVISION IN THIS EFFORT SUNDAY NIGHT AT 8.   I'M DAVID YEPSEN OF  "THE DES MOINES REGISTER"  SITTING IN FOR DEAN BORG ON THIS WEEK'S EDITION OF "IOWA PRESS."   THANKS FOR JOINING US  HERE ON STATEWIDE  IOWA PUBLIC TELEVISION. 

 FUNDING FOR THIS PROGRAM  WAS PROVIDED BY "FRIENDS,"  THE IOWA PUBLIC TELEVISION FOUNDATION...   GENERATIONS OF FAMILIES AND FRIENDS WHO FEEL PASSIONATE ABOUT THE PROGRAMS THEY WATCH ON IOWA PUBLIC TELEVISION;

 AND BY THE IOWA BANKERS ASSOCIATION...   FOR PERSONAL, BUSINESS,  AND COMMERCIAL NEEDS,  IOWA BANKS HELP IOWANS  REACH THEIR FINANCIAL GOALS;  AND BY THE ASSOCIATED GENERAL CONTRACTORS OF IOWA...   THE PUBLIC'S PARTNER IN BUILDING IOWA'S HIGHWAY, BRIDGE, AND MUNICIPAL UTILITY INFRASTRUCTURE.