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House Majority Leader Chuck Gipp and Minority Leader Richard Myers (#3030)
March 14, 2003

Borg: IOWA'S 2003 LEGISLATIVE SESSION IS PAST THE MIDWAY POINT NOW, AND WORK CONTINUES ON THE VEXING 2004 BUDGET. AN UPDATE FROM HOUSE MAJORITY LEADER CHUCK GIPP AND MINORITY LEADER 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, MARCH 14 EDITION OF "IOWA PRESS." HERE IS DEAN BORG.

Borg: IOWA LEGISLATIVE SESSIONS ARE SCHEDULED FOR 110 DAYS. AND IF THAT SCHEDULE HOLDS, 39 DAYS REMAIN NOW IN THE FIRST SESSION OF THE 80TH IOWA GENERAL ASSEMBLY. LIKE MOST SESSIONS, THERE IS CONSIDERABLE, WELL, MAKE THAT A LOT, OF MAJOR DECISION-MAKING REMAINING. THERE'S SOME GRUMBLING THAT SUBSTANTIVE ISSUES, SUCH AS SPENDING CUTS TO BALANCE NEXT YEAR'S STATE BUDGET, AREN'T GETTING PRIORITY. THOSE LEGISLATORS DOING THE GRUMBLING FEAR THAT IF THE BUDGET WORK DOESN'T GET PRIORITY ATTENTION NOW, THE DECISIONS WILL BE COMPRESSED INTO THE FINAL DAYS, LATE-NIGHT SESSIONS AND BACKROOM DEALS. SO WITH THE SESSION NOW MORE THAN HALF GONE, THE QUESTION REMAINS WHERE AND HOW DEEP WILL THE NEW CUTS BE IN THE STATE GOVERNMENT. WE'VE ASKED TWO LEGISLATIVE LEADERS TO PROVIDE SOME PERSPECTIVE. CHUCK GIPP OF DECORAH LEADS THE MAJORITY REPUBLICANS IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, AND IOWA CITY DEMOCRAT RICHARD MYERS LEADS THE MINORITY DEMOCRATS. GENTLEMEN, WELCOME BACK TO "IOWA PRESS." GLAD TO BE HERE. THANK YOU VERY MUCH.

Borg: I NOTICE THAT AS I SAID WE'RE GETTING PERSPECTIVE FROM YOU ON DECISION-MAKING THAT YOU LOOKED AT EACH OTHER AND KIND OF SMILED. WELL, WE'LL ASK. ALSO WITH US HERE AT THE "IOWA PRESS" TABLE, TWO IOWA STATEHOUSE VETERANS: "LEE NEWSPAPERS" DES MOINES BUREAU CHIEF KATHIE OBRADOVICH AND "RADIO IOWA" NEWS DIRECTOR KAY HENDERSON.

Henderson: GENTLEMEN, KATHIE AND I WORK IN A BUSINESS WHERE WE HAVE DAILY DEADLINES AND WE HAVE A WORK PRODUCT TO SHOW WITH IT. YOU'VE BEEN IN DES MOINES AT THE LEGISLATURE FOR TWO MONTHS. THE ONLY VISIBLE ACCOMPLISHMENT, I BELIEVE, IS A BREAST CANCER AWARENESS LICENSE PLATE. WHY SHOULDN'T IOWANS, REPRESENTATIVE GIPP, THINK YOU'RE SLACKERS?

Gipp: WHY SHOULDN'T WE BE SLACKERS? AS YOU KNOW FROM COVERING MANY LEGISLATIVE SESSIONS, THIS IS NOT UNUSUAL THIS LEGISLATIVE SESSION. IN FACT, IF IT DOES LOOK LIKE WE DON'T HAVE A LOT ACCOMPLISHED AT THIS POINT, IT'S BECAUSE WE HAVE A LOT OF BIG ISSUES THIS YEAR, BIG ISSUES SUCH AS ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT, TAX POLICY, AND ISSUES LIKE THAT. YOU'RE NOT SEEING A LOT OF MOVEMENT ON A LOT OF THE SMALLER ISSUES THAT HAVE TRADITIONALLY BEEN IN FRONT OF THE LEGISLATURE. AND THE BIGGEST ISSUE, OF COURSE, THAT WE NEED TO DEAL WITH IS THE BUDGET. AND THAT HAS THE WHOLE LEGISLATIVE PROCESS THAT IT GOES THROUGH, DETERMINING HOW MUCH MONEY IS AVAILABLE AND GETTING SOME AGREEMENT ON WHAT THE SIZE OF THE BUDGET PIE IS BEFORE WE DETERMINE WHERE THOSE DOLLARS GO.

Henderson: BUT, REPRESENTATIVES MYERS, I THOUGHT YOU ALL WERE GOING TO HIT THE GROUND RUNNING.

Myers: I BELIEVE THAT WE ARE IN MANY WAYS, BECAUSE WE CAME INTO THE LEGISLATIVE SESSION SAYING THAT WE WANTED TO CORRECT SOME FLAWS FROM THE LAST SESSION AND WE STARTED OUT DOING THAT. FIRST OF ALL, I WOULD REMIND EVERYONE THAT WE HAVE AN AWFUL LOT OF NEW PEOPLE. THE LEARNING CURVE IS EXTREMELY STEEP IN THAT PLACE; 41 NEW MEMBERS IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES ALONE, SO I HONESTLY BELIEVE THAT COMMITTEE WORK, WHICH IS WHERE THE REAL LEGISLATION IS WRITTEN, THE REAL GOOD STUFF ANYWAY, AS FAR AS I'M CONCERNED, THAT NEEDS TO BE DONE AND YOU NEED TO TAKE YOUR TIME AT IT. SO I WILL SAY ONE THING TOO: SO FAR -- SO FAR WE'VE MANAGED TO STAY AWAY FROM A LOT OF THINGS THAT REALLY DO NOT HELP IOWA'S ECONOMY GROW AND TRYING TO CONCENTRATE IN COMMITTEE ON THINGS THAT DO. NOW, I'M SURE THAT MAY CHANGE BUT, REGARDLESS, I'M NOT THAT DISPLEASED WITH THE PROGRESS SO FAR.

Obradovich: WELL, REPRESENTATIVE MYERS, ONE OF THE BIG IDEAS OR BIG ISSUES THAT IS MOVING IN COMMITTEE IS A BILL THAT REPUBLICANS CALL REGULATORY REFORM. IT INCLUDES CAPPING PAYMENTS, SUFFERING DAMAGES IN CERTAIN TYPES OF LIABILITY COURT CASES. IT INCLUDES CHANGES TO WORKERS' COMPENSATION. IT INCLUDES CHANGES IN UNEMPLOYMENT BENEFITS, WHICH COULD CONCEIVABLY SHORTEN HOW MANY WEEKS AN EMPLOYEE COULD GET IF THEIR PLANT CLOSES. IS THAT THE KIND OF PROGRESS THAT YOU'RE LOOKING FOR OUT OF THIS LEGISLATIVE SESSION?

Myers: I DON'T BELIEVE THAT IS PROGRESS AT ALL, FRANKLY. I DO NOT LIKE THAT BILL. THERE ARE 28 SEPARATE BILLS WRAPPED UP INTO ONE. I COUNTED THEM UP THIS MORNING. EACH ONE OF THOSE ARE VERY SERIOUS SUBJECTS, THAT THEY MAY NEED TIME AND EFFORT TO FIND OUT WHETHER THAT IS THE BEST POLICY FOR IOWA. MANY OF THOSE THINGS IN THERE I THINK TAKE AWAY WORKERS' RIGHTS. I THINK THAT STUFF NEEDS TO BE DEBATED. I DON'T BELIEVE IT NEEDS TO BE ROLLED UP INTO ONE BILL AND ENTERED INTO THE SESSION AT THE LAST WEEK -- OR THE LAST DAY ALMOST OF THE FINAL WEEK AND THEN HOPE TO GET ANY SERIOUS CONSIDERATION. I'VE GOT AN IDEA THAT THE BILL THAT COME OUT OF THE SENATE IS NOT WHAT WE'LL SEE IN THE HOUSE. BUT REGARDLESS, THE FORM IT'S IN RIGHT NOW I DON'T BELIEVE GIVES IT ANY CREDIBILITY WHATSOEVER.

Obradovich: WELL, REPRESENTATIVE GIPP, YOU SAID AT THE BEGINNING OF THE SESSION THAT YOU WEREN'T GOING TO MOVE BILLS IN THE HOUSE THAT DIVIDE IOWANS. HOW DOES THIS BILL FIT INTO THIS SCHEME, AND WHY DO YOU THINK IT'S IMPORTANT?

Gipp: WELL, I THINK THE BILL, WHICH ACTUALLY IS COMING OUT OF THE SENATE COMMITTEE AND NOW IT'S AVAILABLE FOR DEBATE ON THE SENATE FLOOR, I THINK IT ACTUALLY TAKES A NUMBER OF THINGS THAT WILL IMPROVE THE BUSINESS CLIMATE IN THIS STATE AND IT ROLLS THEM UP INTO ONE SO THEY CAN GET CONSIDERATION BY THAT. DO I THINK THAT THIS IS THE BILL THAT'S GOING TO REACH THE HOUSE? I DOUBT IT. I DOUBT THAT IT WILL REACH THE HOUSE IN ITS FORM, BUT I THINK THE ISSUES THAT ARE IN THERE ARE THINGS THAT NEED TO BE CONSIDERED. WE'RE ABOUT CREATING A BUSINESS ENVIRONMENT IN THIS STATE WHICH CREATES JOBS. IT'S VERY SIMPLE THAT THERE ARE NO WORKERS IF THERE IS NO WORK. AND IF WE CAN GET A COMBINATION OF REFORM IN REGULATORY POLICY AND TAX POLICY AND ALSO SOME ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT INCENTIVES, THEN WE WILL HAVE THAT INCREASE IN JOB GROWTH THAT WE DESIRE HERE. SO I DON'T DISCOUNT SOME OF THE THINGS THAT ARE IN THAT BILL BECAUSE IT DOES BRING THEM TO THE TABLE FOR US.

Obradovich: WHAT PARTS DO YOU THINK AREN'T GOING TO MAKE IT?

Gipp: I HAVE NO IDEA AT THAT POINT BECAUSE WE ARE WAITING IN THE HOUSE. WE DON'T HAVE A COMPANION BILL IN THE HOUSE, SO WE'LL WAIT AND SEE WHAT THE SENATE BRINGS OVER TO US.

Myers: LET'S REMEMBER ONE THING ABOUT IT: AT THE START OF THIS SESSION, THE HOUSE LEADERSHIP DECIDED TO DO AWAY WITH THE LABOR COMMITTEE. THERE IS NO REAL FORUM TO DEAL WITH THESE LABOR ISSUES IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, PEOPLE THAT ARE REALLY CONCENTRATING ON ISSUES LIKE THIS. AND BY THE WAY, IS THERE ANYTHING IN THERE THAT WILL RAISE WAGES FOR PEOPLE? I WOULD SAY THAT REPRESENTATIVE GIPP, MY GOOD FRIEND HERE, HAS A CHICKEN-AND-EGG ARGUMENT ABOUT WITHOUT WORK THERE ARE NO WORKERS. WELL, THE REVERSE IS ALSO TRUE; WITHOUT WORKERS THERE ARE NO WORK. AND IF THEY CANNOT AFFORD TO LIVE HERE AND IF THE WAGES ARE NOT HIGH ENOUGH, WELL, THEN I'M SURE THAT HAS AN EQUATION -- A NUMBER IN THE EQUATION AS WELL.

Borg: WHAT'S THE MOST OBJECTABLE THING IN THAT BILL THAT YOU WANT STRIPPED OUT, REPRESENTATIVE MYERS?

Myers: WELL, AS I SAID, THERE ARE 28 SECTIONS IN THAT BILL. EACH ONE OF THEM IS A SEPARATE PIECE OF LEGISLATION. EACH ONE OF THEM, FRANKLY, THEY'RE ALL SERIOUS SUBJECTS THAT DESERVE DEBATE. SOME OF THIS STUFF I COULD UNDERSTAND WHY WE NEED TO DEAL WITH. THERE'S NO DOUBT IN MY MIND ABOUT THAT. BUT I DO NOT WANT TO TAKE WORKERS' RIGHTS AWAY AS FAR AS WORKERS' COMPENSATION IS CONCERNED.

Borg: KAY?

Henderson: THIS PAST WEEK THE REPUBLICANS IN THE SENATE UNVEILED A TAX PLAN, WHICH INCLUDES A FLAT TAX ON INCOME WHICH WOULD LOWER IOWANS' TAX LIABILITY BY ABOUT $500 MILLION. BUT THEY ALSO OUTLINED SOME REVENUE ENHANCEMENTS, WHICH MOST OF US CALL TAX INCREASES, INCREASING THE STATE SALES TAX BY HALF A PENNY AND RAISING THE CIGARETTE TAX. REPRESENTATIVE GIPP, IS THAT SOMETHING REPUBLICANS IN THE HOUSE WILL GO ALONG WITH, RAISING OUR TAXES?

Gipp: WELL, IN THE HOUSE, WE WILL LOOK AT THAT AS SOMETHING THAT WE MAY CONSIDER; HOWEVER, WE HAVE A GROUP OF BIPARTISAN LEGISLATORS IN THE HOUSE ALSO LOOKING AT TAX REFORM IN DIFFERENT WAYS. SO THE THING ABOUT LEGISLATION IS IT'S VERY DIFFICULT TO PUT FORTH ANY PLAN UNLESS YOU HAVE SOMETHING IN WRITING. AND I CREDIT SENATOR MCKIBBEN FOR ACTUALLY PUTTING SOMETHING DOWN IN WRITING. WHAT WE'RE DOING AT THIS POINT IN TIME IS WE'RE GETTING A FISCAL ANALYSIS OF THE IMPACT OF HIS TAX LEGISLATION: WHO IS IT IMPACTING; DOES IT IMPROVE THE BUSINESS CLIMATE? WITH THOSE NUMBERS IN HAND, THEN WE'LL BE ABLE TO DETERMINE WHAT PARTS, IF ANY OF THAT, WE TAKE, VERSUS WHAT SOME OF THE OTHER PLANS THAT ARE CURRENTLY BEING WORKED ON.

Henderson: WHY ARE YOU EVEN CONSIDERING IT WHEN ON THE CAMPAIGN TRAIL YOU PROMISED IOWANS YOU WEREN'T GOING TO RAISE THEIR TAXES?

Gipp: WE DO NOT HAVE ANYTHING IN THE HOUSE THAT CURRENTLY RAISES TAXES. AND THE GOVERNOR HAS SAID THAT HE'S NOT INTERESTED IN RAISING TAXES. I HAVEN'T HEARD REPRESENTATIVE MYERS OR ANYBODY ELSE SAYING THEY'RE INTERESTED IN RAISING TAXES, AND SO WE'LL LOOK AT THIS BILL AND PARTS OF THE BILL. WE'RE NOT SAYING WE'RE GOING TO GO ALONG WITH HALF A PENNY OF SALES TAX INCREASE OR ANYTHING LIKE THAT. YOU NEED TO ALSO UNDERSTAND THAT ANYTIME YOU DO TAX REFORM -- ANYTIME YOU DO TAX REFORM, YOU MAY BE INCREASING TAXES ON SOMEBODY BUT SOMEBODY ELSE IS GOING TO HAVE A REDUCTION. SO THAT'S JUST THE WAY IT IS WHEN YOU MOVE AROUND IN TAX STRUCTURE.

Henderson: REPRESENTATIVE MYERS, THE FLAT TAX WOULD TAKE 80,000 IOWANS OFF THE TAX ROLLS. IT WOULD MEAN THAT THOSE LOWER INCOME IOWANS WOULDN'T HAVE TO PAY TAXES. IS THAT A GOOD IDEA?

Myers: WELL, FIRST, I'M NOT FOR FLAT TAXES. I BELIEVE WE NEED A PROGRESSIVE TAX SYSTEM. I THINK OUR TAX SYSTEM NEEDS TO BE COMPETITIVE WITH OTHER STATES. I THINK IT NEEDS TO BE UNDERSTANDABLE TO OUR CITIZENS AND PROGRESSIVE. I WILL AGREE WITH THE MAJORITY LEADER THAT SENATOR MCKIBBEN HAS LAID A PLAN OUT THERE. AND LET'S START WITH SOME OF THESE THINGS AND WORK WITH THEM. YOU KNOW, ONE OF THE THINGS ABOUT THIS SESSION THAT WE ABSOLUTELY CANNOT ESCAPE IS THAT WE HAVE A FUNDAMENTAL RESPONSIBILITY TO LOOK AT ALL OF THESE REAL FUNDAMENTAL ISSUES ON TAXES. WE SAID WE WANTED TO DO THAT. WE HAVE WORKING GROUPS IN THE HOUSE THAT ARE DOING THAT IN A BIPARTISAN FASHION. AND THERE'S ALL KINDS OF FOLKS LAYING OUT IDEAS. I'M GOING TO GIVE THEM CREDIT FOR DOING THAT, ALL OF THEM, WHETHER IT'S THE FARM BUREAU OR SENATOR MCKIBBEN OR ANYBODY ELSE. BUT AT THE SAME TIME, IT'S A LONG WAY FROM THERE TO MAKING A DECISION ABOUT IT.

Obradovich: ONE ISSUE THAT IS TYPICALLY FRONT AND CENTER IN THE LEGISLATIVE SESSION IS EDUCATION. THIS YEAR WE'RE NOT REALLY HEARING A LOT ABOUT SCHOOLS. WE'RE HEARING A LOT MORE ABOUT ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT; WE'RE HEARING A LOT MORE ABOUT TAXES. WHAT ARE THE ISSUES OUT THERE WITH EDUCATION, AND ARE THERE THINGS THAT ARE GOING TO BE DEALT WITH THIS YEAR, REPRESENTATIVE GIPP?

Gipp: WELL, THERE ALREADY IS AND I THINK THAT'S WHY YOU'RE NOT HEARING A LOT ABOUT EDUCATION, BECAUSE IF YOU LOOK AT THE GOVERNOR'S RECOMMENDATIONS AND WHAT IS IN THE REPUBLICAN TARGETS THAT HAVE BEEN SUBMITTED, K-12 EDUCATION, ONCE AGAIN, WILL BE THE BIG WINNER. THERE ARE SCARCE RESOURCES OUT THERE, BUT WHEN YOU LOOK AT THE FACT THAT WE HAVE FULLY FUNDED THE GOVERNOR'S REQUEST FOR 2-PERCENT ALLOWABLE GROWTH, WE'RE FULLY FUNDING THE CLASS SIZE REDUCTION, EXTENDING THAT -- IT WAS A PROGRAM FOR A CLASS SIZE REDUCTION READING PROGRAM AT $30 MILLION THAT WAS SET TO EXPIRE. WE'VE EXTENDED THAT AS THE GOVERNOR REQUESTED, AND WE PUT MORE MONEY INTO THE TEACHER COMPENSATION PACKAGE. SO K-12 EDUCATION PROBABLY ISN'T SAYING MUCH BECAUSE THEY GOT WHAT THE GOVERNOR RECOMMENDED.

Obradovich: WELL, REPRESENTATIVE MYERS, WHAT ABOUT HIGHER EDUCATION? ARE LEGISLATORS SPENDING ENOUGH TIME TALKING ABOUT HIGHER EDUCATION, UNIVERSITIES, AND ESPECIALLY COMMUNITIES COLLEGES TO SUIT YOUR MEMBERS?

Myers: WELL, WE ALREADY HAVE THE HIGHEST TUITION, I BELIEVE, IN THE COUNTRY, OR ONE OF THE HIGHEST TUITIONS IN THE COUNTRY AT COMMUNITY COLLEGES. THE GOVERNOR PUT A MILLION DOLLARS IN THE BUDGET. THE MAJORITY PARTY HAS TAKEN THAT MILLION DOLLARS OUT AT THIS TIME. AND ALSO, I WOULD NOTE THAT AS FAR AS THE REGENTS ARE CONCERNED, STUDENTS AND THEIR FAMILIES HAVE STEPPED UP TO THE PLATE THE LAST THREE YEARS AND RAISED -- AND BOUGHT INTO THE RAISING TUITION IDEA. I THINK IT'S TIME THAT THE LEGISLATURE DECIDES THAT HIGHER EDUCATION IN THIS STATE IS IMPORTANT. AND I WANT TO SAY THIS: WE'RE NOT THAT FAR APART. I THINK WE NEED TO WORK TOGETHER TO TRY TO SOLVE THESE EDUCATION PROBLEMS. THERE ARE OTHER THINGS WE COULD DO WITH COMMUNITY COLLEGES THAT ARE ON THE TABLE RIGHT NOW, SUCH AS GIVING THEM DIFFERENT WAYS TO RAISE MONEY THEMSELVES. SO I'M STILL OPTIMISTIC THAT WE'RE GOING TO BE ABLE TO HANDLE OUR EDUCATION NEEDS. I'M NOT GOING TO GIVE UP ON IT YET.

Henderson: YOU HAVE A BUNCH OF SMALL SCHOOLS THAT ARE UNHAPPY ABOUT THE LOCAL OPTION SALES TAX, WHEREBY THE STATE'S URBAN AREAS, MOSTLY, ARE COLLECTING AN EXTRA PENNY IN SALES TAXES AND USING THAT TO IMPROVE THEIR SCHOOLS, WHEREBY PEOPLE WHO LIVE IN REALLY SMALL AREAS AREN'T GETTING ANY OF THAT MONEY. WILL THERE BE ANY BILL IN THE LEGISLATURE TO ADDRESS THE DISPARITY, REPRESENTATIVE GIPP?

Gipp: WELL, THERE IS. IN FACT, THERE'S A BILL THAT CAME OUT OF BOTH THE SENATE AND THE HOUSE SIDE, WHICH DOES TRY TO BRING MORE EQUITY TO THE CURRENT --

Henderson: IT IS GONNA HAPPEN?

Gipp: -- LOCAL OPTION SALES TAX. YES, IT WILL. IT'S OUT OF EDUCATION COMMITTEE AND IT WILL GO TO WAYS AND MEANS BECAUSE IT IS A WAYS AND MEANS BILL. WE HAVE THE COMMITMENT FROM THE WAYS AND MEANS CHAIRMAN THAT WE'LL GET CONSIDERATION TO COME OUT OF THE WAYS AND MEANS COMMITTEE. IT MAY HAVE SOME DIFFERENT CHANGES IN THE PRESENT FORMAT, BUT THAT BILL SEEKS TO SEE PROVIDE MORE EQUITY WITH THE DISTRIBUTION OF LOCAL OPTION SALES TAXES BASED ON NOT WHETHER YOU'RE JUST A HIGH RETAIL CENTER OR A LOW RETAIL CENTER BUT MORE ON A PER PEOPLE BASIS.

Borg: I WANT TO GO BACK, REPRESENTATIVE GIPP -- DID YOU WANT TO SAY SOMETHING?

Myers: WELL, I WANTED TO MAKE IT CLEAR THAT I VOTED AGAINST LOCAL OPTION TAXES IN THE PAST AND I AM NOT SUPPORTING OF THIS BILL IN ITS PRESENT FORM. NOW, SOME OF MY MEMBERS ARE. IT'S NOT A CAUCUS POSITION. BUT WHAT BOTHERS ME ABOUT THE LOCAL OPTION TAX ISSUES IS THAT IT PLAYS ONE COMMUNITY OFF AGAINST ANOTHER, ONE SCHOOL BOARD AGAINST ANOTHER, ONE COUNTY AGAINST ANOTHER, IF YOU WILL. AND I DON'T BELIEVE THAT EDUCATION POLICY IN THIS STATE SHOULD BE SETTLED ON A COUNTY-BY-COUNTY OR DISTRICT-BY-DISTRICT BASIS. IT SHOULD BE DONE ON A STATEWIDE BASIS. I, FRANKLY, WOULD REPEAL THE LAW THAT WE HAVE NOW AND LET THOSE SALES TAX EQUATIONS THAT HAVE BEEN VOTED INTO OFFICE EXPIRE. LET THEM GO THEIR FULL ROUTE, TEN YEARS OR WHATEVER IT IS, AND THEN DO THIS ON A STATEWIDE BASIS. PUT A PIECE OF MACHINERY IN PLACE THAT WILL REALLY FUND EDUCATION IN THIS STATE. YOU SEE, ONE OF THE THINGS THAT'S IN THIS BILL IS I DON'T THINK IT'S GOING TO HELP SCHOOLS. NOW, IT MAY HELP SOME PROPERTY TAX RELIEF IN A FEW CASES. BUT IT'S NOT GOING TO HELP THE OPERATION OF SCHOOLS AT ALL. AND WE SHOULDN'T THINK THAT IT WILL.

Borg: REPRESENTATIVE GIPP, ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT. THE GOVERNOR PROPOSED BORROWING MONEY TO JUMP-START ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT AND CREATING A SPECIAL FUND, AND FARM BUREAU CAME ALONG AND SAID, WELL, IF THAT MUCH IS GOOD, A LOT MORE MIGHT BE BETTER. BUT THIS WEEK THE STATE AUDITOR SAID YOU'VE ALREADY BORROWED, FROM SPECIAL FUNDS, A BILLION DOLLARS; SOME OF IT NEEDS TO BE PAID BACK. IN LIGHT OF WHAT THE AUDITOR SAID THIS WEEK, ARE YOU HAVING SECOND THOUGHTS ABOUT BORROWING AND BONDING FOR ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT?

Gipp: WELL, OF COURSE, THAT'S ALWAYS A CONTROVERSIAL TOPIC WHEN YOU TALK ABOUT BORROWING MONEY, BUT PEOPLE NEED TO UNDERSTAND THAT BUSINESS AND INDIVIDUALS AT TIMES IN THEIR LIFE BORROW MONEY IN ORDER TO MAKE MORE MONEY. AND THE KEY IS NOT WHAT YOU BORROW, IT'S WHAT YOU SPEND IT FOR. SO WHETHER IT'S THE IOWA VALUES FUND, WHICH THE GOVERNOR PROPOSES; OR THE REV FUND, WHICH THE LEAGUE OF CITIES HAS; OR THE CHAMBER ALLIANCE POSITION; OR THE BIO FUND, THE BRING IT ON FUND, WHICH HAS BEEN PROPOSED BY SOME, I THINK IT'S NOT SO MUCH THE DOLLARS THAT ARE BEING TALKED ABOUT, THERE'S TWO KEY ASPECTS THAT HAVE TO BE DETERMINED IS WHERE THIS MONEY GETS SPENT. IF IT GETS SPENT TO BRING US INFRASTRUCTURE WHICH THEN ALLOWS THE REFINING AND PROCESSING OF OUR RAW PRODUCTS IN THIS STATE TO BE PUT INTO SOME REFINED PRODUCTS AND THEREFORE THE ADDED VALUE ON THOSE PRODUCTS, I THINK THAT'S A WISE INVESTMENT, ESPECIALLY IN LIGHT OF THE CURRENT INTEREST RATES AND THINGS LIKE THAT. THE SECOND PIECE IS WHO IS GOING TO GOVERN, WHO IS GOING TO DETERMINE WHERE THESE DOLLARS GET SPENT? THAT'S TWO KEY PIECES THAT ARE OUT THERE THAT NEED TO BE DETERMINED BEFORE WE EVEN TALK ABOUT SIZE. AND THEN MORE IMPORTANTLY IS WHERE IS THE REVENUE FUND, THE REVENUE SOURCE IN ORDER TO PAY BACK THESE BONDS WHICH THEY'RE PROPOSING. I'M NOT AFRAID AS AN INDIVIDUAL TO BOND AND CREATE A POOL OF DOLLARS TO DO THESE TYPES OF THINGS IF INDEED WE KNOW THAT IT'S GOING TO PROVIDE FOR ECONOMIC GROWTH AND AT THE SAME TIME BE AFFORDABLE IN A REVENUE SOURCE. SO THOSE ARE ISSUES THAT HAVE TO BE DETERMINED BEFORE WE GO FORWARD WITH ANY PLAN THAT'S OUT THERE.

Borg: ANY DISAGREEMENT WITH THAT, REPRESENTATIVE MYERS?

Myers: I AGREE WITH REPRESENTATIVE GIPP THAT WE NEED TO INVEST IN OURSELVES. I'VE BEEN A BUSINESSMAN IN THIS STATE FOR FORTY-ONE YEARS. MANY TIMES DURING MY BUSINESS CAREER, I FOUND THAT THINGS WEREN'T GOING TOO WELL. AND YOU KNOW, WHEN TIMES ARE BAD, THAT'S WHEN YOU NEED TO TAKE RISK AND REINVEST IN YOURSELF. AND I THINK THAT'S WHAT THE IOWA VALUES FUND IS ALL ABOUT. AND I AGREE WITH REPRESENTATIVE GIPP THAT NOW IS THE TIME, WITH INTEREST RATES AND EVERYTHING ELSE AND THE ECONOMY NOT IN THAT GOOD OF SHAPE, TO INVEST IN OURSELVES. AND I BELIEVE THAT DEBT IS PART OF THAT EQUATION. MANAGE DEBT.

Henderson: IOWANS ARE GOING TO HAVE TO PAY THAT DEBT. AND YOU HAVE A COUPLE OF WHAT YOU'VE REFERRED TO AS WORKING GROUPS THAT ARE WORKING ON HOW TO STRUCTURE THIS FUND. WHY ISN'T THAT BEING DONE IN PUBLIC MEETINGS SO THAT IOWANS WHO ARE GOING TO END UP FOOTING THE BILL KNOW WHAT THE HECK YOU'RE TALKING ABOUT?

Gipp: WELL, I THINK THAT IT TAKES SOME TIME TO DO SOME OF THESE THINGS. THE GROUP HAS ACTUALLY SPLIT OFF NOW, ONE DETERMINING THE POSSIBLE REVENUE SOURCE AND THE OTHER ONE IS HOW WE'RE -- WHAT IT'S GOING TO BE DESIGNED TO BE SPENT FOR.

Henderson: WHY SHOULDN'T IOWANS BE ABLE TO KNOW WHAT YOU'RE TALKING ABOUT?

Gipp: THEY WILL GET AN OPPORTUNITY TO SEE THAT SHORTLY. ALL THE WORKING GROUPS WE HAVE OUT THERE WORKING ON THESE ISSUES ARE GOING TO HAVE A FRAMEWORK PUT TOGETHER BEFORE THE END OF THIS MONTH, AND THEN WE WILL USE THAT FRAMEWORK, SIMILAR TO WHAT SENATOR MCKIBBEN DID ON HIS TAX PLAN IN ORDER TO WORK OFF THAT PLAN, AND THERE WILL BE AMPLE OPPORTUNITY FOR EVERYBODY TO HAVE COMMENTS AS TO WHAT IS GOING TO BE -- IF INDEED WE GO FORWARD WITH ANY BIO FUND OR IOWA VALUES FUND AND WHAT THOSE THINGS ARE SPENT ON.

Henderson: REPRESENTATIVE MYERS, DO YOU LIKE THE VEIL OF SECRECY?

Myers: I THINK THAT PEOPLE NEED AN OPPORTUNITY ONCE IN A WHILE TO THINK OUT LOUD AND WORK IN GROUPS AND TRY TO PUT SOME IDEAS ON THE TABLE, NOT NECESSARILY TO MAKE DECISIONS. I THINK THOSE DECISIONS SHOULD BE MADE IN PUBLIC AND SHOULD BE EXPLAINED TO THE PUBLIC, AND I KNOW THEY WILL BE. THAT'S THE INSTRUCTIONS I GAVE TO MY MEMBERS ON THAT COMMITTEE. RIGHT NOW I THINK IT'S JUST WHAT IT IS; IT'S A WORKING GROUP. IT'S A GROUP OF PEOPLE GETTING TOGETHER AND TOSSING OUT IDEAS AND SEEING IF ANY OF THIS STUFF MAKES ANY SENSE AND TRYING TO PUT OURSELVES IN A FRAMEWORK WHERE WE CAN ACTUALLY MAKE DECISIONS AND WRITE PROGRAMS THAT CAN BE IN FRONT OF THE PUBLIC TO EXAMINE.

Obradovich: ONE OF THE COMMON FACETS OF SOME OF THESE PLANS IS SETTING ASIDE MONEY TO HELP WITH THE EXPANSION AND RETENTION OF A BIOTECHNOLOGY COMPANY IN WESTERN IOWA CALLED TRANS OVA. REPRESENTATIVE GIPP, WHY IS THIS SITUATION ANY DIFFERENT FROM SOME OF THE PLANS OF THE PAST THAT HAVE INVOLVED THROWING A BUNCH OF MONEY AT A COMPANY TO BRIBE THEM TO STAY IN THE STATE? WHY IS THIS ANY DIFFERENT?

Gipp: WELL, I THINK THIS IS UNIQUE BECAUSE ONE OF THE THINGS THAT HAS BEEN IDENTIFIED BY THE GOVERNOR AND OTHERS IS THAT WE NEED TO CULTIVATE THE LIFE SCIENCE AND PHARMACEUTICAL INDUSTRY IN THE STATE EITHER THROUGH OUR ANIMAL AGRICULTURE THAT WE HAVE OR THROUGH THEIR PLANT TECHNOLOGY THAT'S AVAILABLE. AND TRANS OVA HAPPENS TO BE AN EXAMPLE OF WHAT IS ALREADY OUT THERE. WE DON'T BELIEVE THAT WE CAN ACTUALLY -- IF WE WANT TO BE SERIOUS ABOUT FARMING, BIOTECH, AND LIFE SCIENCES, WE CAN'T AFFORD TO LOSE THE ONE COMPANY THAT'S ALREADY OUT THERE DOING THAT. THAT'S WHY YOU SEE AN EARLY EMPHASIS ON TRANS OVA. WHAT WE DON'T WANT PEOPLE TO DO IS SAY THAT WE'RE DOING SOMETHING STRICTLY FOR TRANS OVA, BECAUSE THAT'S REALLY NOT THE CASE. ANY DOLLARS -- AND WE WILL DEBATE THAT BILL ON MONDAY -- THIS COMING MONDAY, THE TRANS OVA LEGISLATION. THAT'S AN EXAMPLE OF WHAT WE'RE TRYING TO DO IN THE STATE. AND ANY DOLLARS THAT ARE SPENT IN KEEPING TRANS OVA HERE WILL BE ALSO TO BUILDING LAB SPACE THAT'S COMMON FOR OTHER COMPANIES LIKE THEM TO USE.

Obradovich: WELL, REPRESENTATIVE MYERS, I THINK A LOT OF YOUR CONSTITUENTS HAVE QUESTIONS ABOUT WHETHER THE STATE SHOULD BE INVESTING IN BIOTECHNOLOGY. THEY HAVE CONCERNS ABOUT CLONING. THEY HAVE CONCERNS ABOUT MAKING DRUGS FOR HUMANS OUT OF BIOGENETIC MATERIALS. HOW DO YOU ANSWER CRITICS BACK IN YOUR DISTRICT ON THIS ISSUE?

Myers: WELL, FIRST OF ALL, THIS KIND OF LEGISLATION IS ALSO TIED INTO OUR RESEARCH UNIVERSITIES AT IOWA STATE AND THE UNIVERSITY OF IOWA, AND I THINK THAT'S VITALLY IMPORTANT. YOU KNOW, ONE OF THE THINGS THAT WE SAID COMING INTO THIS SESSION, THE DEMOCRATIC CAUCUS WAS, THAT WE WANTED TO INVEST IN IOWA COMPANIES. WE WEREN'T ABOUT BRIBING PEOPLE TO COME INTO THIS STATE. FRANKLY, WE WANTED TO HELP BUSINESSES THAT WERE ALREADY HERE TO GROW, BECAUSE WE THOUGHT THAT'S WHERE REAL GROWTH SHOULD BE FOCUSED. AND WE ALSO WANTED TO INCLUDE OUR RESEARCH INSTITUTIONS IN PUBLIC/PRIVATE PARTNERSHIPS, AND I THINK THAT'S WHAT WE'RE DOING WITH TRANS OVA.

Borg: I JUST WAS WONDERING HERE, WHAT ARE YOU GOING TO DO ON GAMBLING? [ LAUGHTER ]

Gipp: WE'RE GOING TO ROLL THE DICE.

Myers: OH BOY. THAT'S A BAD METAPHOR.

Borg: REPRESENTATIVE GIPP?

Gipp: WELL, ACTUALLY THE GAMBLING INITIATIVE -- GAMBLING IS AN ISSUE THAT WE NEED TO SOLVE AND WE NEED TO SOLVE IT SOON. AND THAT'S -- WHILE THE EARLIER COMMENTS AS THIS PROGRAM STARTED WAS ABOUT THE BUDGET, RESOLVING THE GAMBLING PIECE IS VERY IMPORTANT FOR THE FOCUS OF THE BUDGET. WITH THE RECENT LAWSUIT THAT'S BEEN OUT THERE, WE'RE GOING TO HAVE TO SHUT OFF FUNDING FOR SOME OF THE THINGS THAT WERE APPROVED LAST YEAR WHEN IT COMES TO THE ENVIRONMENTAL PROGRAMS -- WATER QUALITY INITIATIVE, SOIL CONSERVATION COST SHARE -- BECAUSE THE LOSS OF THOSE REVENUES GENERATED BY GAMBLING, WHICH PAYS FOR THOSE PROGRAMS, IS RUNNING OUT. SO WE NEED A RESOLUTION NOT ONLY TO OUR BUDGET THAT WE'RE CURRENTLY IN BUT WE NEED A RESOLUTION TO THAT PROBLEM BEFORE WE CAN DETERMINE WHAT HAPPENS NEXT YEAR BECAUSE THAT'S A $38-MILLION PROBLEM. SO THE GOVERNOR AND THE LEGISLATIVE LEADERSHIP CONVENED A MEETING WITH THE GAMBLING INDUSTRY AND PUT THE GAUNTLET DOWN. IN FACT, THE GOVERNOR'S BUDGET PUTS THE GAUNTLET DOWN ON THE GAMBLING INDUSTRY THAT HE'D MADE IT REVENUE NEUTRAL. SO WE'RE ASKING THEM TO COME UP WITH A PROPOSAL AND THEN, AS LEGISLATIVE LEADERS, IT'S OUR JOB TO SEE IF WE CAN PASS IT.

Henderson: REPRESENTATIVE GIPP, BEFORE THE SESSION STARTED, YOU SAID THERE WOULD BE A NEED TO RETOOL IOWA'S RELATIVELY NEW LIVESTOCK LAW. YOU HAVE A COUNTY IN THE PAST MONTH THAT HAS PAID OFF A DEVELOPER JUST TO KEEP THEM FROM BUILDING IN THEIR COUNTY. WHY ISN'T THERE SOMETHING MOVING THROUGH THE LEGISLATURE TO ADDRESS THIS ISSUE?

Gipp: WELL, I DON'T THINK THERE'S GOING TO BE ANYTHING THIS YEAR. THE ADMINISTRATIVE RULES JUST WERE ADOPTED. THEY WERE ADOPTED AS THE DEPARTMENT REQUESTED. IT DID CAUSE SOME PAIN AND SUFFERING TO SOME OF THE PEOPLE THAT ARE GOING TO HAVE TO ABIDE BY THOSE RULES, AND THAT'S CERTAINLY A CONCERN BY SOME SMALLER LIVESTOCK OPERATIONS. MY CONCERN IN EARLIER COMMENTS EARLY THIS YEAR WAS THAT WE MIGHT HAVE TO RETOOL THIS TO MAKE SURE THAT THE LAW DOESN'T IMPACT NEGATIVELY THOSE TRADITIONAL FAMILY FARMING OPERATIONS THAT ARE OUT THERE. AND YET WHEN WE GO THAT ROUTE, IF WE OPEN UP THAT BILL WITHOUT KNOWING WHAT THE IMPACT IS NOW, THEN IT OPENS THAT WHOLE DEBATE UP FOR A WHOLE PLETHORA OF OTHER AMENDMENTS AS WELL. SO WE DON'T LOOK THAT IT'S TIME TO EVEN REACT TO THAT UNTIL WE FIND OUT THE IMPACT OF WHAT IS CURRENTLY ON THE BOOKS.

Henderson: REPRESENTATIVE MYERS, BEFORE THE SESSION STARTED, YOU SAID THAT YOU WANTED INSURANCE COMPANIES TO OFFER COVERAGE FOR MENTAL ILLNESS IN THE SAME FASHION THAT THEY DO FOR PHYSICAL ILLNESSES. IS THAT GOING TO HAPPEN THIS YEAR?

Myers: WELL, YESTERDAY I BELIEVE A BILL ON MENTAL HEALTH PARITY CAME OUT OF COMMITTEE. IT WAS -- I'LL CHARACTERIZE IT TWO WAYS. FIRST OF ALL, IT'S NOT A GOOD BILL. SECOND OF ALL, IT'S A START. SO I'M GOING TO LIVE WITH THAT FOR THE MOMENT. I REALLY WISH WE WOULD HAVE DONE THIS FOUR YEARS AGO. I THINK WE MIGHT HAVE MADE SOME PROGRESS. THIRTY-FIVE STATES HAVE MENTAL HEALTH PARITY ON THEIR BOOKS. WE NEED TO TREAT THIS ILLNESS FOR JUST WHAT IT IS AND MAKE SURE THAT INSURANCE COVERAGE IS OFFERED, SO I WANT TO SEE MENTAL HEALTH PARITY ON THE BOOKS IN THE STATE OF IOWA.

Obradovich: REPRESENTATIVE GIPP, EARLY IN THE SESSION WE ALSO SAID THAT THERE'S A WINDOW OPEN RIGHT NOW FOR NONPARTISAN OR BIPARTISAN ACTIVITY IN THE LEGISLATURE. DO YOU THINK THAT WINDOW IS STILL OPEN, AND FOR HOW MUCH LONGER?

Gipp: OH, I THINK IT'S COMPLETELY OPEN. REPRESENTATIVE MYERS AND I CONFER ON A DAILY BASIS ABOUT VARIOUS THINGS, AND WE HAVEN'T SEEN A WHOLE LOT OF STRUGGLES ON THE HOUSE FLOOR OR IN COMMITTEES, FOR THAT MATTER. MOST EVERYTHING THAT COMES OUT -- WHEN I LOOK AT THE WHITE CALENDAR THAT'S OUT THERE, MOST OF THE BILLS THAT CAME OUT CAME OUT ON A BIPARTISAN BASIS.

Borg: THE WINDOW ON TIME IS CLOSED THOUGH. WE'RE OUT OF IT. THANK YOU VERY MUCH.

Myers: WE ARE?

Borg: YES, WE'RE OUT. ON OUR NEXT EDITION OF "IOWA PRESS," WE'LL FOCUS ON THE WORK OF THE 108TH CONGRESS. U.S. SENATOR CHARLES GRASSLEY WILL BE HERE WITH US WITH HIS INSIGHTS ON INTERNATIONAL CRISIS AND THE NATION'S TROUBLED DOMESTIC AGENDA. THAT'S NEXT WEEKEND WHEN, INCIDENTALLY, WE RETURN TO OUR REGULAR AIRTIME: 6:30 FRIDAY WITH A SUNDAY NOON REBROADCAST. AND WE CLOSE WITH THIS PROGRAM REMINDER. ON MONDAY OF THIS COMING WEEK, MARCH 17, PBS AND IOWA PUBLIC TELEVISION ARE PRESENTING THREE HOURS OF SPECIAL PROGRAMMING RELATING TO THE SHOWDOWN BETWEEN THE U.S. AND IRAQ. A TWO-HOUR "FRONTLINE" SPECIAL ENTITLED "THE LONG ROAD TO WAR" AIRS MONDAY NIGHT FROM 7 TO 9. THERE WILL BE SPECIAL INSIGHTS INTO THE CRISIS AND THE POSSIBLE RAMIFICATIONS. AND FOLLOWING THAT PROGRAM, MONDAY AT 9, "NOW WITH BILL MOYERS" EXPLORES THE SENTIMENTS OF IRAQI NATIONALS WHO ARE URGING AN INVASION TO GET RID OF SADDAM HUSSEIN. MOYERS WILL ALSO EXAMINE IN THAT PROGRAM THE MEDIA COVERAGE OF THE CONFRONTATION WITH IRAQ. THE SPECIAL REPORTS "FRONTLINE" AND "NOW WITH BILL MOYERS" BEGIN AT 7 MONDAY NIGHT. AND THAT SPECIAL PROGRAMMING IS TYPICAL OF WHAT YOU FIND ALL YEAR LONG ON IOWA PUBLIC TELEVISION. AND I MAKE THAT EMPHASIS NOW BECAUSE THIS IS THE TIME WE ASK YOU TO HELP US CONTINUE THAT KIND OF REPORTING. YOU HAVE A DIRECT IMPACT THROUGH "FRIENDS" OF IOWA PUBLIC TELEVISION. AND WE'RE NOW INTO OUR FINAL DAYS OF OUR 2003 "FRIENDS" FESTIVAL. AS YOU RECALL OUR YEAR-ROUND COMMITMENT TO HIGH QUALITY, LOCALLY PRODUCED PROGRAMS, I HOPE YOU'LL PLEDGE GENEROUSLY. WE APPRECIATE YOUR PAST SUPPORT. IT KEEPS PROGRAMS SUCH AS "IOWA PRESS" ON THE AIR. AND WITH YOUR CONTINUED SUPPORT, WE'LL DO OUR BEST TO DELIVER WHAT YOU'VE COME TO EXPECT FROM US. THANK YOU. I'M DEAN BORG. THANKS FOR JOINING US TODAY.