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SENATOR MIKE GRONSTAL and
REPRESENTATIVE RICHARD MYERS

(#3034)

April 11, 2003

Borg: THE 110-DAY SCHEDULED SESSION OF THE 2003 IOWA LEGISLATURE ENDS IN THREE WEEKS.   MUCH REMAINS ON THE AGENDA AND WE'LL GET AN ASSESSMENT FROM THE LEGISLATURE'S DEMOCRATIC MINORITY LEADERS, SENATOR MIKE GRONSTAL AND REPRESENTATIVE 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,  APRIL 11 EDITION  OF "IOWA PRESS."   HERE IS DEAN BORG. 

Borg: BETWEEN NOW AND MAY 2, MEMBERS OF THE IOWA GENERAL ASSEMBLY WILL BE MAKING MANY BIG DECISIONS AFFECTING ALL OF US AND IOWA'S FUTURE.   ONE OF THEM IS THE 2004 STATE BUDGET, WHICH TAKES EFFECT JULY 1.   WHAT TO CUT AND HOW MUCH TO CUT TO BRIDGE A DEFICIT OF MORE THAN $200 MILLION ARE DECISIONS THAT HAVE RIPPLE EFFECTS.   ANOTHER PRIORITY IS BROAD-BASED TAX REFORM.   WHILE IT'S CLEAR THAT SOME TAX PROPOSALS WILL BE PUT ON HOLD FOR CONSIDERATION IN FUTURE LEGISLATIVE SESSIONS, SOME TAX REFORM MEASURES ARE GETTING SERIOUS CONSIDERATION DURING THE CURRENT SESSION.   WELL, TODAY WE GET INSIGHTS FROM DEMOCRATIC LEGISLATIVE LEADERS.  SENATOR MIKE GRONSTAL OF COUNCIL BLUFFS IS THE SENATE'S MINORITY LEADER, AND IOWA CITY'S RICHARD MYERS LEADS THE MINORITY PARTY IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES.   GENTLEMEN, WELCOME BACK  TO "IOWA PRESS." 

Myers: THANK YOU. 

Gronstal: PLEASURE TO BE HERE. 

Borg: NICE TO HAVE YOU HERE IN THESE WANING DAYS FOR SOME PERSPECTIVE.   ACROSS THE TABLE:   "DES MOINES REGISTER" POLITICAL COLUMNIST DAVID YEPSEN,  AND "ASSOCIATED PRESS" SENIOR LEGISLATIVE REPORTER MIKE GLOVER. 

Glover: SENATOR GRONSTAL, WE'RE HEADING INTO THE LAST THREE WEEKS, PRESUMABLY, OF THIS YEAR'S LEGISLATIVE SESSION.   GIVE YOUR ASSESSMENT OF THIS SESSION.   WHAT'S YOUR TAKE ON WHAT'S HAPPENED UP ON THE HILL THIS YEAR? 

Gronstal: WELL, AT THIS POINT I'M A LITTLE DISAPPOINTED IN WHAT'S HAPPENED IN THIS SESSION.   I DON'T THINK WE'VE BEEN PARTICULARLY SUCCESSFUL SO FAR.   WE'RE GOING TO STRUGGLE THROUGH A DIFFICULT BUDGET YEAR, AND THIS SESSION HAS TO BE ABOUT GROWING OUR ECONOMY TO SUPPORT OUR VALUES.   THE GOVERNOR'S IOWA VALUES FUND, THERE IS GOOD WORK STILL BEING DONE ON THAT IN A BIPARTISAN WAY, SO FOLKS ARE WORKING ON THAT.   BUT TAX REFORM HAS NOT BEEN A BIPARTISAN PROCESS.  A HOST OF OTHER BILLS LIKE REGULATORY REFORM, EVEN THE HAV ACT, THE HELP AMERICANS VOTE ACT, HAS BEEN FILLED WITH A BUNCH OF PARTISAN PIECES THAT WOULD LIKELY LEAD IT TO BE VETOED.   SO THIS SESSION HAS BEEN A FRUSTRATING SESSION.  AND JUST YESTERDAY, 13 REPUBLICANS ANNOUNCED A TIMID, SCALED-BACK ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT EFFORT THAT I THINK WILL KILL OUR OPPORTUNITY IN THIS SESSION. 

Glover: REPRESENTATIVE MYERS, THAT'S A PRETTY GRIM ASSESSMENT OF THIS YEAR'S LEGISLATURE.   DO YOU AGREE WITH THAT? 

Myers: WELL, IN PART.   WELL, FIRST OF ALL, YOU HAVE TO REMEMBER THAT WE TOOK ON SOME AWFUL BIG SUBJECTS, AND THE GOVERNOR GAVE US A FAIRLY AMBITIOUS CHARGE AT THE BEGINNING OF THE SESSION.   HE STARTED OUT WITH THINGS IN TAX REFORM THAT WE HADN'T REALLY TALKED ABOUT MUCH BEFORE, AND THEN IOWA VALUES WAS PART OF THAT AS WELL.   I REALLY BELIEVE THAT WE ARE COMING CLOSER TO GETTING AN AGREEMENT ON IOWA VALUES.   I WANT TO COME OUT OF THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES WITH WHAT I CALL A HOUSE IOWA VALUE PLAN.  I DIDN'T SAY HOUSE DEMOCRATS OR HOUSE REPUBLICANS, I SAID A HOUSE PLAN, AND I'M WORKING TOWARD THAT GOAL.   I BELIEVE THAT WE OUGHT TO COME OUT OF THIS SESSION WITH A PLAN FOR GROWTH FOR IOWA'S ECONOMIC FUTURE.   AND I'M GOING TO CONTINUE TO WORK ON THAT.   SOME OF THE TAX THINGS -- WE'VE GOT TO REMEMBER, IT TOOK US SEVERAL YEARS TO GET INTO THE MESS WE ARE WITH SOME OF OUR TAX THINGS.   I DON'T THINK IT WILL BE SOLVED OVERNIGHT BUT, REGARDLESS, I'M GOING TO KEEP WORKING ON IT. 

Yepsen: MR. MYERS, WHAT IS THE RELATION BETWEEN THE GOVERNOR AND DEMOCRATIC LEGISLATORS?   I HEAR RUMBLINGS FROM SOME DEMOCRATS THAT TOM VILSACK REALLY IS IGNORING YOU, THAT HE'S NOT INCLUDING YOU IN NEGOTIATIONS, THAT WHAT THIS SESSION IS IS A DEMOCRATIC GOVERNOR CUTTING DEALS WITH REPUBLICAN LEGISLATORS.   ARE YOU GUYS IN THE MIX UP THERE? 

Myers: I BELIEVE THAT I AM IN THE MIX.   THAT'S RIGHT, I DO.   REGARDLESS OF WHAT YOU SAY, THE REPUBLICANS HAPPEN TO HAVE MORE VOTES IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES AND THE SENATE THAN WE DO, SO IT'S KIND OF NATURAL FOR THE GOVERNOR TO DO THAT.   BUT AT THE SAME TIME I FEEL, ON SEVERAL ISSUES IN THE HOUSE, THAT WE ARE IN PLAY.   AND ALSO --  I WANT YOU TO REMEMBER SOMETHING ELSE.   WE'RE THE LEGISLATIVE BRANCH.   THAT'S AN EXECUTIVE BRANCH.   WILL WE DISAGREE ONCE IN A WHILE?  YES.   AND THAT'S HEALTHY  AND THAT DOESN'T BOTHER ME. 

Yepsen: MR. GRONSTAL, THE SAME QUESTION TO YOU.   ARE DEMOCRATIC SENATORS IN THE MIX HERE OR HAVE THEY BEEN SORT OF SHOVED ASIDE? 

Gronstal: WE HAVE DEMOCRATIC SENATORS MEETING WITH THE GOVERNOR EVERY DAY.   WE'RE GOING OVER ALL OF THE ISSUES.  WE'RE GOING OVER HIS BUDGET ITEMS.   WE'RE HAVING GOOD COMMUNICATIONS WITH THE GOVERNOR AND A GOOD WORKING RELATIONSHIP WITH HIM. 

Yepsen: SO THOSE DEMOCRATIC SENATORS WHO COMPLAIN PRIVATELY REALLY ARE OFF THE MARK. 

Gronstal: I THINK ON SOME ISSUES, SOME PEOPLE DO FEEL LEFT OUT.   THAT'S SOMETIMES THE NATURE OF THE PROCESS.  BUT IN EVERY CASE WHERE WE'VE SEEN THOSE KINDS OF PROBLEMS, THOSE DIFFERENCES DEVELOP BETWEEN OUR CAUCUS AND THE GOVERNOR, WE'VE BEEN ABLE TO WORK WITH HIM AND GET THEIR ATTENTION AND GET THOSE ISSUES DEALT WITH. 

Borg: SENATOR GRONSTAL, YOU GAVE AN ASSESSMENT AND IT WAS PRETTY NEGATIVE OF WHAT'S HAPPENED SO FAR.   I'D LIKE TO HAVE YOU PROJECT AHEAD A BIT AND IMAGINE THAT YOU'VE ADJOURNED.   WHAT DO YOU THINK WILL BE THE LEGACY?   WHAT'S THIS SESSION GOING TO BE REMEMBERED FOR? 

Gronstal: THIS SESSION WILL EITHER BE A FAILURE OR IT WILL BE A SESSION WHERE WE WORK TOGETHER IN A BIPARTISAN WAY TO COME UP WITH SOMETHING DRAMATIC.   YOU KNOW, I BELIEVE LIFE SCIENCES IS THE NEXT REVOLUTION.   WE HAD THE INDUSTRIAL REVOLUTION, THE INFORMATION REVOLUTION.   LIFE SCIENCES IS THE NEXT REVOLUTION, AND WE HAVE AN OPPORTUNITY TO EMBED THAT INDUSTRY IN THIS STATE IF WE'LL DO SOMETHING DRAMATIC.   IF WE PASS THAT CHANCE UP, THE NEXT HUNDRED YEARS WILL LOOK LIKE THE LAST HUNDRED YEARS, WITH OUR CHILDREN LEAVING OUR STATE FOR GOOD JOBS IN OTHER STATES. 

Borg: NOW, YOU'RE SCHEDULED TO GO ONLY THREE MORE WEEKS.   THAT'S SCHEDULED.   IS THERE STILL TIME, REPRESENTATIVE MYERS, TO DO WHAT SENATOR GRONSTAL --

Myers: I BELIEVE THERE'S TIME TO GET THE IOWA VALUES FUND PASSED.   I REALLY DO.  AND I WOULD AGREE WITH SENATOR GRONSTAL.   IF WE DON'T --  IF WE DO NOT ACCOMPLISH THAT GOAL, I THINK WE WILL HAVE FAILED.   AND I'M GOING TO DO EVERYTHING I CAN TO SEE THAT HAPPENS.   SOME OF THE TAX THINGS THAT I HAVE BEEN PRATTLING ABOUT, AND I THINK THE REPUBLICANS ARE TOO, ARE VERY COMPLICATED AND DIFFICULT TO GET DONE.   REGARDLESS, WE SHOULD START THE PROCESS.   I DON'T THINK IT WILL BE FINISHED THIS SESSION AND, YOU KNOW, THAT DOESN'T BOTHER ME A GREAT DEAL.   I WANT TO CONTINUE TO WORK ON SOME OF THESE TAX REFORM ISSUES OVER THE SUMMER.   AND I DON'T MEAN SOME FANCY TRUMPED-UP INTERIM COMMISSION.   I'M TALKING ABOUT LEGISLATORS SITTING DOWN, WORKING TOGETHER, TRYING TO FIND OUT WHAT THEY CAN DO TO MODERNIZE IOWA'S TAX SYSTEM. 

Glover: SENATOR GRONSTAL, YOU GAVE A FAIRLY NEGATIVE ASSESSMENT OF THE ACCOMPLISHMENTS OF THIS LEGISLATURE SO FAR, AND YOU'VE GIVEN YOUR PARTISAN ANALYSIS FOR THE FAILURES OF THE REPUBLICAN PARTY.   AT WHAT POINT DO DEMOCRATS IN THE LEGISLATURE, THOUGH THEY'RE A MINORITY, AS REPRESENTATIVE MYERS POINTS OUT, AT WHAT POINT DO YOU HAVE A RESPONSIBILITY TO PUT ASIDE YOUR PARTISAN HAT TO SIT DOWN AND TRY TO TAKE RESPONSIBILITY FOR MAKING SOMETHING HAPPEN? 

Gronstal: WE HAVE DONE EXACTLY THAT THIS SESSION.   WE HAVE NOT ENGAGED THIS SESSION IN TOSSING PLANS UP AGAINST THE WALL, WHETHER IT BE A TAX PLAN OR THE IOWA VALUES FUND THAT THE REPUBLICANS UNVEILED YESTERDAY, THEIR SCALED-BACK VERSION.  WE HAVEN'T TRIED TO DO THIS SESSION ON PRESS RELEASES AND PRESS CONFERENCES.   WE'VE TRIED TO SIT DOWN --  AND I WOULD TELL YOU, WE'VE GOT A GOOD GROUP OF PEOPLE WORKING ON THE IOWA VALUES FUND, AND I STILL THINK THAT'S POSSIBLE TO GET THAT ACCOMPLISHED.   BUT WE'RE NOT INTO THAT.   WE'RE INTO -- YOU KNOW, WE COULD THROW UP A TAX PLAN THAT WAS, YOU KNOW, FAIRER TO WORKING FAMILIES.   WE RECOGNIZE REPUBLICANS HAVE TO BE PART OF THE MIX IF WE'RE GOING TO PASS TAX REFORM.   SO WE OUGHT TO SIT DOWN AND START GOING OVER SOME PRINCIPLES:   WHAT CAN WE AGREE TO;  WHAT CAN WE RECOGNIZE THAT THE OTHER PARTY CAN'T AGREE TO;  WHAT ARE THE PIECES;  AND MOVE FORWARD THAT WAY.   NONE OF THAT KIND OF ACTIVITY IS HAPPENING ON TAX POLICIES. 

Glover: REPRESENTATIVE MYERS, WHAT'S HAPPENED UP THERE?   THERE DOESN'T SEEM TO BE ANY GIVE AND TAKE BETWEEN REPUBLICANS AND DEMOCRATS:   NO MOVEMENT,  NO NEGOTIATIONS,  NO BARGAINING.   AT WHAT POINT IS IT YOUR RESPONSIBILITY TO MAKE THAT HAPPEN?

Myers: WELL, I WOULD DISAGREE WITH THE FACT THAT THERE IS NO GIVE AND TAKE.   I WOULD JUST POINT BACK TO LAST WEEK'S EDUCATION BILL THAT PASSED.   THAT WAS THE FIRST EDUCATION BILL THAT I REMEMBER IN MY TENURE IN THE HOUSE THAT PASSED WITHOUT A DISSENTING VOTE.   AND HOW DID THAT HAPPEN?   IT HAPPENED BECAUSE DEMOCRATS AND REPUBLICANS SAT DOWN AND WORKED ON AN AGREEMENT THAT WE COULD ALL VOTE FOR.   AND, YOU KNOW, IT WASN'T EVERYTHING THE DEMOCRATS WANTED, AND I'M SURE MAYBE IT WASN'T EVERYTHING REPUBLICANS WANTED.   BUT, REGARDLESS, WE CAME OUT OF THAT WITH AN AGREEMENT.   WE'RE WORKING EVERY DAY ON A BIPARTISAN BASIS TO TRY TO -- TO GET THIS IOWA VALUES FUND ACCOMPLISHED.   YOU KNOW, I DON'T SEE -- I SEE LESS PARTISANSHIP THAN I'VE EVER SEEN SINCE I'VE BEEN IN THE LEGISLATURE.   SURE, WE DISAGREE ON CERTAIN THINGS.   WHAT'S WRONG WITH THAT?   WE'RE SUPPOSED TO.   AT THE SAME TIME, WE'RE TAKING RESPONSIBILITY IN OUR CAUCUS TO SEE TO IT THAT WE HAVE IDEAS ABOUT THE IOWA VALUES FUND THAT'S PUT INTO LAW. 

Glover: YOU SAY YOU'VE SEEN LESS PARTISANSHIP THAN YOU HAVE IN SESSIONS PASSED.   I'VE ALSO SEEN LESS ACCOMPLISHMENTS.  I CAN'T THINK OF A SINGLE THING THIS LEGISLATURE HAS ACCOMPLISHED -- 

Myers: JUST REMEMBER THE ENORMITY OF THE TASKS THAT I TALKED ABOUT AT FIRST.   THE THINGS THAT WE'RE SETTING OUT TO DO ARE REVOLUTIONARY.   THEY ARE TOTALLY DIFFERENT FROM ANYTHING WE'VE TRIED TO DO IN THE PAST. 

Glover: NOT MEETING BIG GOALS IS ABOUT THE SAME AS NOT MEETING SMALL GOALS.   DO YOU AGREE WITH THAT? 

Myers: NOT ENTIRELY, NO.   AND I WANT TO POINT OUT ONE MORE THING.   LOOK AT THE BUDGET DEBATES THAT HAVE BEEN GOING ON SO FAR IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES.   THOSE BUDGET DEBATES HAVE LACKED THE ACRIMONY OF PREVIOUS YEARS.  THERE WERE PEOPLE TRYING TO SOLVE SOLUTIONS.   IN MANY CASES, DEMOCRATS VOTED FOR BUDGETS THAT HAVE NEVER VOTED FOR THEM BEFORE, SO I BELIEVE THERE'S PROGRESS IN THAT WAY. 

Yepsen: SENATOR, WE WANT TO GET TO SOME OF THESE THINGS, BUT JUST ONE SORT OF BROAD QUESTION.   WHAT'S WRONG WITH WAITING?  SORT OF THE FLIP SIDE OF MIKE'S QUESTION:   WHAT'S WRONG WITH WAITING A YEAR? 

Gronstal: WAITING A YEAR ON WHAT?

Yepsen: I MEAN YOU'RE TALKING ABOUT REWRITING THE INCOME TAX CODE, REWRITING THE PROPERTY TAX CODE, THE VALUES FUND.   THESE STRIKE ME AS VERY COMPLICATED THINGS, SENATOR, THAT YOU WANT TO GET RIGHT WHEN YOU DO THEM, OTHERWISE THE LAW OF UNINTENDED CONSEQUENCES IS GOING TO BITE YOU.   SO WHAT'S SO TERRIBLE WITH WAITING?

Gronstal: THERE'S AN INCREDIBLE OPPORTUNITY FOR IOWA TO BRING AN INDUSTRY TO THIS STATE THAT COULD BUILD ON OUR STATE'S STRENGTHS THAT FITS WELL WITH THE CHARACTER OF THIS STATE.   THERE'S AN INCREDIBLE OPPORTUNITY TO DO THAT.   YES, WE CAN WAIT ON TAX REFORM.   WE CAN WAIT ON THAT.   BUT IF WE WAIT ON ECONOMIC GROWTH INITIATIVE IN THIS STATE, OUR KIDS WILL CONTINUE TO LEAVE OUR STATE FOR BETTER JOBS IN OTHER STATES.   THAT'S THE OPPORTUNITY OF THIS SESSION.  THAT'S WHAT WE SAID ON THE FIRST DAY OF THE SESSION.   THIS SESSION HAS GOT TO BE ABOUT GROWING OUR ECONOMY. 

Yepsen: MR. MYERS, HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT AN IDEA I'VE HEARD SOME REPUBLICANS TALKING ABOUT THAT WE WAIT ON DRAFTING NEW PROPERTY TAX LAWS AND NEW INCOME TAX LAWS, WORK ON THAT OVER THE INTERIM AS YOU SUGGEST, BUT SUNSET BOTH THE INCOME TAX AND THE PROPERTY TAX IN IOWA THIS SESSION TO FORCE THE LEGISLATURE EITHER THIS YEAR OR NEXT TO COME UP WITH A SOLUTION?

Myers: HOLD THAT LEGISLATIVE GUN TO OUR HEAD, SO TO SPEAK.   I'VE ADVOCATED THAT IN THE PAST, THAT WE SHOULD SUNSET THOSE LAWS AND FORCE US TO WORK ON THEM.  AND BY THE WAY, THERE'S A DIFFERENCE BETWEEN STARTING SOMETHING AND REALLY GETTING IT FINISHED.   I BELIEVE WE NEED TO START.   WE'VE GOT TO GET THAT DONE.   WE'VE GOT AN OPPORTUNITY, PARTICULARLY WHERE IT COMES TO THE IOWA VALUES FUND.   YOU KNOW, NO MATTER WHAT WE DO THIS SESSION WITH IOWA VALUES IF WE GET SOMETHING STARTED, WE'LL STILL BE WORKING ON IT NEXT YEAR, PROBABLY WORKING ON IT FOR FOUR OR FIVE YEARS.   THERE'S NOTHING WRONG WITH THAT.   THESE THINGS TAKE TIME.   IT'S NOT GOING TO BE DONE RIGHT AWAY.

Borg: BUT SENATOR GRONSTAL SAYS THERE'S A WINDOW OF OPPORTUNITY RIGHT NOW THAT EXISTS THAT PROBABLY WON'T BE THERE NEXT SESSION. 

Myers: THERE'S A WINDOW OF OPPORTUNITY TO HAVE A VERY GOOD, HEALTHY START AND A FRAMEWORK. 

Glover: REPRESENTATIVE MYERS, LET ME FLIP THAT QUESTION AROUND ABOUT WAITING FOR ANOTHER YEAR.   ABOUT THIS TIME NEXT YEAR, WE'RE GOING TO BE IN THE MIDDLE OF A PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION.   GEORGE BUSH IS GOING TO BE PARACHUTING IN, CAMPAIGNING FOR REELECTION, AND 125 LEGISLATORS ARE GOING TO BE RUNNING FOR REELECTION.   CONTROL OF THE IOWA LEGISLATURE IS GOING TO BE IN PLAY AGAIN.   THAT'S A GOOD YEAR TO WRITE A TAX BILL? 

Myers: YOU KNOW WHAT?   I CAME DOWN HERE TO GOVERN, NOT CAMPAIGN. 

Glover: WELL, YOU'RE GOING TO BE CAMPAIGNING NEXT YEAR. 

Myers: WHAT? 

Glover: YOU'RE GOING TO BE CAMPAIGNING NEXT YEAR. 

Myers: I'LL TELL YOU WHAT, I BELIEVE THAT WE SHOULD COME BACK IN NEXT YEAR WITH THE SAME ATTITUDE WE CAME IN THIS YEAR.   REPRESENTATIVE GIPP CAME IN AND SAID IT'S TIME TO GOVERN, NOT CAMPAIGN.   I ENDORSED THAT.   I'VE BEEN SAYING IT MYSELF.   I WANT TO CONTINUE TO WORK ON GOVERNING.   THAT'S ALL I'M THINKING ABOUT RIGHT NOW. 

Glover: SENATOR GRONSTAL, WHAT ABOUT THAT?   HOW DO YOU DO TAX BILLS, WHICH ARE POLITICALLY VERY DIFFICULT TO DO?   PUTTING ASIDE WHETHER YOU'RE A REPUBLICAN OR DEMOCRAT, THEY'RE JUST VERY DIFFICULT POLITICAL ISSUES TO ADDRESS BECAUSE THE TWO PARTIES HAVE DIFFERENT VIEWS ON THEM.   HOW DO YOU DEAL WITH THAT IN AN ELECTION YEAR? 

Gronstal: WHAT A PERFECT OPPORTUNITY.   YOU'VE GOT A DEMOCRAT IN THE GOVERNOR'S OFFICE, REPUBLICANS IN CONTROL OF THE LEGISLATURE.   WHAT A PERFECT OPPORTUNITY TO FIND COMMON GROUND AND NOT HAVE IT BE ABOUT SHIFTING TAXES FROM OUR PERSPECTIVE TO --

Glover: WHY COULDN'T YOU DO IT THIS YEAR?  WHY CAN'T YOU DO IT THIS YEAR? 

Gronstal: I CAN.   I'M READY TO. 

Glover: THEN HOW IS IT GOING TO BE EASIER NEXT YEAR? 

Gronstal: REPUBLICANS THIS YEAR ARE NOT SITTING DOWN AND WORKING WITH US. 

Glover: AND NEXT YEAR WHEN THEY'RE ALL UP FOR REELECTION, THEY'RE GOING TO BE A LOT MORE OPEN TO COMPROMISE, RIGHT? 

Gronstal: AND THOSE --  I GUESS I CAN'T CONTROL THE REPUBLICANS' BEHAVIOR. 

Myers: SENATOR, WE'RE READY TO WORK ON AN IOWA VALUES FUND.   THAT'S GOING TO BE THE NUMBER ONE AGENDA OF THIS SESSION.

Yepsen: SENATOR, LET'S DEAL WITH SOME OF THE SPECIFICS WE'VE BEEN TALKING ABOUT OUT HERE TODAY, THE BUDGET.   WHERE IS THE BUDGET?   AND SPECIFICALLY, HOW DO DEMOCRATS FEEL ABOUT SOME OF THESE CUTS PROPOSED BY THE CONSULTANT THE GOVERNOR HIRED, PUBLIC STRATEGIES GROUP?  HOW DO THEY FEEL ABOUT THOSE KINDS OF ISSUES? 

Gronstal: I THINK EVERYBODY HAS SOME CONCERNS ABOUT THOSE THINGS UNTIL THEY SEE THE DETAILS, AND I THINK THAT'S WHAT WE NEED TO WORK ON IN THAT.   IF IT'S AN EFFORT --  IF IT'S SOME EFFORT THAT TAKES $100 MILLION AWAY FROM LOCAL GOVERNMENTS AND LET'S THEM RAISE PARKING FINES $5, THAT ISN'T REINVENTION;  THAT'S JUST SQUEEZING CITIES AND COUNTIES.   WE NEED --  WE'RE MORE THAN WILLING TO CONSIDER EFFORTS THAT WILL SIMPLIFY STATE GOVERNMENT, MAKE IT MORE EFFICIENT, AND COMBINE SERVICES. 

Yepsen: MR. MYERS, HOW DO DEMOCRATS IN THE HOUSE FEEL ABOUT SOME OF THESE CUTS THAT HAVE BEEN PROPOSED BY THE CONSULTANT THE GOVERNOR HIRED? 

Myers: FIRST OF ALL, I'LL TELL YOU I'VE HEARD SO MUCH ANECDOTAL REFERENCE OR IDEAS ABOUT WHAT THIS THING WILL DO OR NOT DO.  AND WHILE I'M SKEPTICAL OF THE WHOLE IDEA OF REINVENTING GOVERNMENT -- THE REINVENTING GOVERNMENT PHRASES, IF IT'S SOME SORT OF MAGIC FORMULA -- I DON'T BELIEVE IN THAT, BY THE WAY.   THIS STUFF IS HARD WORK AND IT TAKES A LOT OF RESEARCH AND A LOT OF TIME.   WHAT I HAVE DONE IS I HAVE ASSIGNED ABOUT 18 PEOPLE IN SIX DIFFERENT AREAS -- ACTUALLY IT'S 20 PEOPLE IN SIX DIFFERENT AREAS TO WORK ON SPECIFIC PARTS OF THAT BECAUSE I WANT THEM TO BECOME EXPERTS ON THAT IN OUR CAUCUS.   AND MY MISSION TO THEM -- OR MY CHARGE TO THEM WAS JUST THIS:   DON'T RULE OUT ANYTHING;  SEE WHAT'S ON THE TABLE;  SEE WHAT WORKS AND WHAT DOESN'T WORK.   I WANT TO SAY ONE THING.   THIS IS NOT SOME SORT OF PHILOSOPHICAL ARGUMENT HERE.   THIS IS ABOUT MANAGING RESOURCES.   THAT'S WHAT I'M INTERESTED IN.   SO I'VE ASSIGNED PEOPLE TO FIND THAT OUT SO WE CAN HAVE A HEALTHY DISCUSSION IN OUR CAUCUS THAT ISN'T JUST BASED ON SPECIAL INTEREST. 

Glover: SENATOR GRONSTAL, YOU SEEMED TO SUGGEST EARLIER THAT YOU'RE PESSIMISTIC ABOUT THIS PROPOSED REVAMP OF THE PROPERTY TAX SYSTEM PASSING; IS THAT CORRECT?

Gronstal: I HAVE VERY SERIOUS CONCERNS. 

Glover: BUT YOU DON'T THINK IT'S GOING TO PASS THIS YEAR? 

Gronstal: THAT DEPENDS ON WHAT THE REPUBLICANS DECIDE TO DO.  AT THIS POINT IN TIME WE HAVE SERIOUS CONCERNS THAT IT'S A SIGNIFICANT TAX INCREASE FOR --

Glover: THAT'S MY NEXT QUESTION.   WHAT'S WRONG WITH THE PROPOSAL THAT'S OUT THERE? 

Gronstal: THE PROPOSAL THAT'S OUT THERE, MY ESTIMATE -- AND I HAVE NOT YET SEEN A BILL ON THE SUBJECT, BUT I'VE SEEN THEIR ORIGINAL PRESS RELEASE ON THE SUBJECT.  AND MY READ OF THAT IS THAT IT'S A 25- TO 30-PERCENT INCREASE IN A HOMEOWNER'S TAXES. 

Glover: REPRESENTATIVE MYERS, YOU FOCUSED ON PROPERTY TAXES THROUGHOUT YOUR POLITICAL CAREER. 

Myers: THAT'S RIGHT.

Glover: HOUSE REPUBLICANS HAVE ISSUED A PROPOSAL TO REVAMP THE PROPERTY TAX SYSTEM --

Myers: THEY'RE MEETING TODAY. 

Glover: (A) WILL IT PASS THIS LEGISLATURE;  AND (B) IF NOT,  WHAT'S WRONG WITH IT? 

Myers: I BELIEVE IT HAS AN OPPORTUNITY TO PASS THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES.   THAT'S ALL I'LL SAY ABOUT IT RIGHT NOW, BECAUSE I DON'T WANT TO JUDGE -- I DON'T KNOW WHAT THE SENATE IS DOING ON IT.  BUT LET ME SAY THIS ABOUT IT.   IT STARTS OFF WITH SOMETHING THAT I THINK NEEDS TO BE DONE;  IT GETS RID OF THE ROLLBACK FORMULA.   IT STARTS OFF TRYING TO CREATE A CLEAN SLATE, BUT IT ALSO HAS SOME RATHER PROBLEMATIC THINGS IN THERE AS FAR AS THIS SQUARE-FOOT APPROACH THAT THEY'RE USING.   I WOULD RATHER USE THE ALLOWABLE-GROWTH APPROACH.   WE STARTED OUT TO TRY TO DO THAT ABOUT FOUR OR FIVE YEARS AGO, JUST KIND OF DO IT LIKE WE DO SCHOOLS.   AND I THINK THAT MAKES A LOT MORE SENSE; HOWEVER, I DIDN'T THINK THAT DOCUMENT WAS VERY SIMPLE.   I WANT TO MAKE OUR PROPERTY TAX SYSTEM A LOT SIMPLER.   AND I'LL TELL YOU SOMETHING ELSE, WE'VE STILL GOT TO REMEMBER THAT REGARDLESS OF WHAT WE DO, CITIES AND COUNTIES AND SCHOOL BOARDS HAVE A STATUTORY MISSION TO DO CERTAIN THINGS AND WE'VE GOT TO BE SURE THEY HAVE THE TOOLS TO DO THAT.  SO I'M NOT READY TO GIVE UP ON IT ALL.   I THINK IT MAY BE A GOOD START, BUT I DON'T BELIEVE WE HAVE ANY IDEA OF WHAT THE DETAILS OF THAT THING ARE JUST YET.   HOW DOES IT ACTUALLY PLAY OUT? 

Glover: WELL, WITH THREE WEEKS TO GO, THEN, HOW DO YOU DO A COMPLEX THING LIKE REVAMPING -- SCRAPPING THE STATE'S PROPERTY TAX SYSTEM? 

Myers: HOW DO YOU DO IT? 

Glover: YEAH, IN THREE WEEKS. 

Myers: I DIDN'T SAY IT NECESSARILY WOULD BECOME LAW.   I SAID IT WOULD PASS THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES. 

Yepsen: SENATOR GRONSTAL, INCOME TAXES.   LOTS OF IDEAS FLOATING AROUND THE CAPITOL FOR WHAT WE OUGHT TO DO WITH OUR INCOME TAX SYSTEM.   SENATOR LARRY MCKIBBEN WAS ON THIS PROGRAM LAST WEEK TALKING ABOUT THE PLAN HE HAS OFFERED FOR A ONE-RATE --  A FLAT-RATE INCOME TAX, LOPPING SOME PEOPLE OFF FROM HAVING TO PAY TAXES, RAISING THE SALES TAX A HALF PENNY.   HOW DO DEMOCRATS FEEL ABOUT THAT?   WHAT WOULD DEMOCRATS LIKE TO DO?   AND MORE IMPORTANTLY, WHERE IS THE MIDDLE GROUND HERE ON THE INCOME TAX? 

Gronstal: WELL, FIRST OF ALL, THE MCKIBBEN PLAN IS ROBINHOOD IN REVERSE.   IT'S RAISING TAXES ON LOW INCOME PEOPLE AND WORKING FAMILIES.   AND IN EXCHANGE, RICH FOLKS GET ONE HECK OF A TAX BREAK.   IT'S ROBINHOOD IN REVERSE.   THAT'S OUR OBJECTION TO THAT POINT.   BUT THAT'S WHAT I'M TALKING ABOUT.   YOU TOSS OUT A PLAN LIKE THAT AND START -- THAT DOESN'T HELP YOU IN BARGAINING.   WHAT IF WE AGREED WE'RE GOING TO COME UP WITH A PLAN THAT, OVERALL, IS REVENUE NEUTRAL TO THE STATE.   YOU KNOW, MAYBE SOME PEOPLE WANT TO CUT IT AND MAYBE SOME PEOPLE WANT TO RAISE REVENUES.   WHAT IF WE AGREED, BETWEEN THE TWO PARTIES, LET'S MAKE IT REVENUE NEUTRAL?   AND THEN WHAT IF WE SAID, OKAY, IT'S GOING TO BE REVENUE NEUTRAL; NOW HOW ABOUT REVENUE NEUTRAL BY INCOME CLASS?   NO, DEMOCRATS AREN'T GOING TO GET TO TAX THE RICH MORE AND, NO, DEMOCRATS AREN'T GOING TO GET TO TAX WORKING FAMILIES MORE.   SO WE AGREE ON THOSE TWO PRINCIPLES.   NOW YOU CAN WRITE A TAX PLAN.   NOW YOU CAN COME UP WITH SOMETHING THAT REPEALS FEDERAL DEDUCTIBILITY, MAYBE REDUCE THE NUMBER OF RATES, MASSIVELY SIMPLIFY OUR INCOME TAX SYSTEM.   THAT BECOMES POSSIBLE IF YOU'LL SIT DOWN AND AGREE TO SOME PARAMETERS.   AND I THINK THAT'S POSSIBLE BUT REPUBLICANS AREN'T ENGAGING IN THAT. 

Yepsen: WELL, THAT'S BECAUSE, SENATOR, THEY DO NOT BELIEVE IN REPEALING FEDERAL DEDUCTIBILITY.   THAT'S A HUGE TAX CUT.

Gronstal: THAT'S WHAT SENATOR MCKIBBEN DID IS REPEAL FEDERAL DEDUCTIBILITY. 

Yepsen: IN RETURN FOR A FLAT TAX.   THEY DON'T WANT TO KEEP THE PROGRESSIVITY THERE.   WELL, WHERE'S THE MIDDLE GROUND WITH WHAT YOU'RE TALKING ABOUT? 

Gronstal: THE MIDDLE GROUND IS THE -- THE MIDDLE GROUND IS WE AGREE THAT OVERALL IT'S GOING TO BE REVENUE NEUTRAL AND IT'S GOING TO BE REVENUE NEUTRAL BY INCOME CLASS.   AND, NO, THEY DON'T GET TO TAX THE POOR MORE SO THAT THEY CAN CUT TAXES FOR THE RICH. 

Yepsen: MR. MYERS, WHAT ARE THE PROSPECTS FOR INCOME TAX CHANGES IN THE HOUSE? 

Myers: I THINK THAT RIGHT NOW, AS MUCH AS -- AS MANY THINGS THAT ARE ON THE PLATE RIGHT NOW, I'M NOT SURE THAT IT'S GOING TO GET DONE THIS YEAR.   MAYBE THE THINGS MIGHT START IN THE SENATE.  I WANT TO COMMENT A MINUTE ABOUT SENATOR MCKIBBEN'S PLANS, BECAUSE I PUT IN BILLS ON ELIMINATING FEDERAL DEDUCTIBILITY.   I BELIEVE THAT'S A MUST FOR ECONOMIC GROWTH IN IOWA.   WHAT I WANT TO DO IS TELL THE TRUTH ABOUT TAXES.   WE'VE MADE OUR TAX SYSTEM SO COMPLICATED WITH ALL KINDS OF RULES AND STUFF THAT NO ONE CAN REALLY UNDERSTAND IT.   I LIKE THAT PART OF SENATOR MCKIBBEN'S PLAN WHETHER THERE SHOULD BE --  I DO NOT AGREE WITH HIS FLAT TAX OF ONE CATEGORY BUT, YOU KNOW, WE COULD MAKE IT SIMPLER.   THERE ARE NINE CATEGORIES NOW.   MAYBE A COMPROMISE IS WE COMPRESS THAT THING DOWN TO FOUR OR FIVE.  THERE ARE A LOT OF THINGS WE COULD DO WITH THIS, AND I DON'T WANT TO SHUT DOWN ANYTHING RIGHT NOW.   BUT THE IDEA OF REMOVING FEDERAL DEDUCTIBILITY AND MAKING IT REVENUE NEUTRAL IS A SOUND IDEA FOR ECONOMIC GROWTH IN THIS STATE AND MAKING OUR TAX SYSTEM SIMPLER. 

Glover: AND IT'S NOT GOING TO HAPPEN THIS YEAR? 

Myers: WHAT? 

Glover: AND NOT GOING TO HAPPEN THIS YEAR. 

Myers: WELL, I PUT IN A BILL EVERY YEAR TO DEAL WITH FEDERAL DEDUCTIBILITY.   I STILL WANT TO KEEP WORKING ON IT. 

Glover: SENATOR GRONSTAL, THERE ARE A NUMBER OF OTHER TAX PROPOSALS THAT ARE LAYING ON THE TABLE.   THERE ARE SOME PEOPLE WHO WANT TO INCREASE THE CIGARETTE TAX, POSSIBLY USING THAT TO PAY FOR THIS IOWA VALUES FUND.   THERE ARE SOME PEOPLE WHO TALK ABOUT DOING STATEWIDE PROPERTY TAX TO HELP PAY FOR THAT SAME FUND.   THERE ARE OTHERS WHO WANT TO INCREASE THE STATE SALES TAX TO DO THAT.   WHAT ARE THE PROSPECTS FOR SOME OF THESE OTHER TAX CHANGES ACTUALLY MAKING THEIR WAY INTO LAW? 

Gronstal: I THINK CERTAINLY IN THE END THE IOWA VALUES FUND NEEDS A REVENUE SOURCE IF IT'S GOING TO SUCCEED. 

Glover: WHAT'S YOUR BET ABOUT WHAT IT WILL BE? 

Gronstal: I'M NOT GOING TO PLACE BETS RIGHT NOW.   I WANT TO WORK TOGETHER WITH REPUBLICANS AND TRY AND ACCOMPLISH SOMETHING THAT CAN GET A MAJORITY OF BOTH OF OUR CAUCUSES TO SUPPORT IT, AND I THINK THERE'S SEVERAL POSSIBILITIES. 

Glover: REPRESENTATIVES MYERS, WHAT ARE THE CHANCES OF SOME OF THESE OTHER TAX PROPOSALS THAT ARE LAYING ON THE TABLE? 

Myers: WELL, FIRST OF ALL, THE CIGARETTE TAX.   I'M NOT SURE THAT WE COULD DO THAT WITH THE IOWA VALUES FUND.   ONE THING WE DO IF WE DECIDE TO FINANCE -- WE'RE GOING TO HAVE TO FIND A WAY TO FINANCE IT, AND IT'S GOING TO HAVE TO BE SOMETHING THAT SUPPORTS THE BONDS.   I MEAN, IF IT DOESN'T, IF IT'S NOT PREDICTABLE, THE BONDS AREN'T GOING TO BE WORTH ANYTHING, SO THAT'S OUR FIRST REQUIREMENT.   AS FAR AS CIGARETTE TAXES ARE CONCERNED, IF WE DO PASS A CIGARETTE TAX INCREASE, I WANT TO BE SURE THAT SOME OF THAT MONEY WENT FOR PUBLIC HEALTH BECAUSE MORE THAN JUST A REVENUE IDEA, IT IS A PUBLIC HEALTH ISSUE WITH ME AND I THINK WITH A LOT OF THE MEMBERS OF THE IOWA LEGISLATURE.   BUT ALSO, THERE ARE SOME OTHER THINGS I THINK WE COULD LOOK AT AS FAR AS, YOU KNOW, SECURING SOME GAMBLING MONEY OR SOMETHING LIKE THAT TO START IT OUT WITH.   AND THERE'S ALSO A LOT OF ISSUES ON THE TABLE THAT THE GOVERNOR PUT OUT THAT MIGHT GET A FINANCIAL PLAN FOR IOWA VALUES. 

Gronstal: KIND OF LIKE THE INTERNET -- THE TAX ON THE INTERNET SALES. 

Yepsen: OKAY.   WELL, KEEP GOING.  I MEAN THAT'S A QUESTION THAT'S --  LET'S TALK ABOUT THE VALUES FUND. 

Gronstal: THAT'S THE KIND OF MECHANISM THAT IN THE LAST QUARTER OF NEXT YEAR WILL BRING IN ABOUT $25 MILLION. 

Yepsen: HOW DO YOU GET AROUND THE CAMPAIGN PROMISES THAT THE GOVERNOR MADE AND THAT REPUBLICAN LEGISLATORS MADE AND MANY DEMOCRATIC CANDIDATES MADE:   NO TAX INCREASES.   HOW DO YOU GET AROUND THAT NOW TO FIND A FUNDING MECHANISM FOR YOUR VALUES FUND? 

Gronstal: YOU KNOW, THINGS HAVE CHANGED SINCE LAST FALL.   YOU KNOW, OUR ECONOMY IS FLAT.   AND THERE'S A NUMBER OF THESE PIECES THAT CAN BE DONE, BUT OUR ECONOMY, IT'S NOT JUST FLAT, IT'S DECLINING NATIONWIDE.   THERE WAS A WAR --  THERE'S A WAR IN IRAQ THAT'S HANGING OVER US.   THESE ARE PRETTY TOUGH TIMES. 

Yepsen: AND THE CURE FOR IOWA'S ECONOMIC PROBLEMS IS TO RAISE THE TAXES?

Gronstal: NOW, WAIT.   THINK FOR A MINUTE.   WHAT ABOUT SOMETHING LIKE COMBINED REPORTING, WHICH IS A TAX --  WHICH IS A TAX LOOPHOLE FOR OUT-OF-STATE CORPORATIONS.   WHY WOULD WE CONTINUE THAT?   WHY WOULD REPUBLICANS WALK AWAY FROM THAT TAX?   THERE'S $25 MILLION A YEAR.   CONSERVATIVE ESTIMATE,  $25 MILLION A YEAR.   WHY WOULD WE TAKE THE SIDES OF OUT-OF-STATE INTERNET SALES PLACES?   WHY WOULD WE TAKE THEIR SIDE OVER OUR LOCAL IOWA RETAILERS THAT PAY PROPERTY TAXES AND INCOME TAXES AND COLLECT SALES TAXES IN OUR STATE.   THOSE ARE TWO TAXES THAT BENEFIT -- TWO TAX LOOPHOLES THAT BENEFIT OUT-OF-STATE CORPORATIONS.  THERE'S $52 MILLION RIGHT THERE. 

Yepsen: MR. MYERS? 

Myers: WELL, IN THE FIRST PLACE, IT'S NOT INCREASING THE TAX, IT'S COLLECTING A TAX THAT'S OWED.   AND THAT'S A MARKED DIFFERENCE BETWEEN RAISING A TAX. 

Glover: REPRESENTATIVE MYERS, ONE OF THE ISSUES THAT WAS VERY HOT WHEN THE LEGISLATURE BEGAN IS THE ISSUE OF HOW YOU TAX CASINOS.   THE IOWA SUPREME COURT PUNCHED A BIG HOLE IN YOUR BUDGET WHEN IT STRUCK DOWN A TAXING SCHEME THAT TAXES LAND-BASED CASINOS AT A HIGHER RATE THAN FLOATING CASINOS.   THERE WAS A LOT OF TALK ABOUT WHAT TO DO ABOUT THAT.   THAT'S FADED AWAY.   IS THAT ISSUE JUST DEAD?  ARE YOU GOING TO WAIT FOR THE U.S. SUPREME COURT TO HANDLE IT? 

Myers: WELL, THE SESSION ISN'T OVER YET.  YOU KNOW, IT ISN'T OVER TILL IT'S OVER, AS THEY SAY IN BASEBALL, SO WE'LL SEE WHAT HAPPENS.   I STILL HAVE A FEELING, IN MY MIND, THAT SOMETHING MIGHT COME TO TABLE.   I'M OPEN TO IT BUT I CAN TELL YOU RIGHT NOW I BELIEVE THE PLAN THAT WAS ADVANCED BY SOME FOLKS IN THE SENATE AND IN THE GOVERNOR'S CHAIR AS WELL AS SOME MEMBERS OF THE HOUSE ABOUT THE 30 AND THE 20 DEAL AND LET'S GO WITH IT AND TAKE THE STATE OUT OF THE LAWSUIT, FRANKLY, I'M READY TO VOTE FOR THAT. 

Glover: REPRESENTATIVE GRONSTAL, THERE DOESN'T SEEM TO BE A LOT OF --

Gronstal: I'LL GIVE YOU A PREDICTION RIGHT NOW. 

Glover: OKAY. 

Gronstal: THERE WILL BE A BILL BEFORE THE END OF THE SESSION ON THAT SUBJECT THAT RESOLVES OUR BUDGET PROBLEMS. 

Myers: I AGREE WITH THAT TOO. 

Gronstal: WELL, WE DON'T KNOW WHAT IT WILL DO YET, BUT IT WILL RAISE ENOUGH REVENUE TO TAKE CARE OF THIS YEAR'S BUDGET PROBLEM INSIDE THAT FUND AND NEXT YEAR'S. 

Yepsen: SENATOR, WE'VE ONLY GOT A COUPLE MINUTES LEFT.   WE ALWAYS LIKE TO TALK A LITTLE POLITICS.  WHAT ARE THE PROSPECTS FOR DEMOCRATS TAKING CONTROL OF THE LEGISLATURE IN THE '04 ELECTION?   THE CONVENTIONAL WISDOM UP THERE IS IT'S GOING TO BE PRETTY TOUGH, THAT IT'S GOING TO BE A GOOD YEAR FOR REPUBLICANS WITH GRASSLEY AT THE TOP OF THE TICKET FOR A REPUBLICAN CONGRESSMAN.   YOU TOOK A REAL RUN AT TAKING THE LEGISLATURE IN THE LAST ELECTION, DIDN'T MAKE IT.   WHAT'S YOUR SENSE OF HOW TOUGH IT'S GOING TO BE FOR YOU TO TAKE CONTROL OF THE SENATE? 

Gronstal: I THINK TAKING CONTROL OF THE SENATE IS ABOUT RECRUITING GOOD CANDIDATES, AND THAT'S WHAT WE'RE WORKING ON RIGHT NOW.   I THINK WE'VE GOT A GREAT OPPORTUNITY NEXT TIME.   IN THE SENATE, THERE ARE 7 DEMOCRATS UP FOR ELECTION IN THE NEXT CYCLE AND THERE ARE 18 REPUBLICANS UP.  WE'VE GOT TO HAVE A LOT MORE OFFENSE NEXT TIME IN OUR EFFORT TO TAKE CONTROL OF THE SENATE AND DO A LOT LESS DEFENSE. 

Yepsen: YOU'RE UP NEXT TIME.   ARE YOU GOING TO RUN FOR REELECTION? 

Gronstal: YES. 

Yepsen: REPRESENTATIVE MYERS, SAME QUESTION TO YOU.   WHAT ARE THE DEMOCRATIC PROSPECTS FOR TAKING THE HOUSE? 

Myers: I THINK THEY'RE FAIRLY GOOD.   WE HAVE 46 SEATS;  5 FROM TAKING CONTROL.   AND AGAIN, I AGREE WITH SENATOR GRONSTAL; IT DEPENDS ON THE QUALITY OF THE CANDIDATE IN MANY WAYS.   BUT, YOU KNOW, ELECTING SOMEONE TO THE LEGISLATURE IS NOT NECESSARILY JUST A REPUBLICAN OR DEMOCRATIC EXERCISE IN IOWA;  IT'S ABOUT WHO THAT PERSON IS. 

Yepsen: MR. MYERS, ONE OTHER QUESTION TO YOU.   WILL YOU BE A CANDIDATE FOR REELECTION? 

Myers: I'M RIGHT NOW INTERESTED IN GETTING THIS SESSION DONE.   I'M NOT MAKING ANY ANNOUNCEMENTS ABOUT MY POLITICAL FUTURE AT THIS TIME.

Yepsen: SO YOU'RE LEAVING THE DOOR TO RETIREMENT OPEN HERE TODAY, CORRECT? 

Myers: I'M GOING TO GET THIS SESSION DONE. 

Glover: REPRESENTATIVE MYERS, SPEAKING OF QUALITY OF CANDIDATES, YOU'VE GOT A PRETTY HIGH QUALITY OF DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATES AND A PRETTY HIGH NUMBER OF DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATES.   GIVE ME YOUR ASSESSMENT OF THAT FIELD.   WHO'S HOT AND WHO'S NOT RIGHT NOW. 

Myers: OH, BOY!   YOU KNOW, ONE OF THE JOBS THAT I HAVE HERE IS TRYING TO STAY NEUTRAL IN THAT PARTICULAR PHRASE. 

Glover: I'M NOT ASKING YOU TO ENDORSE THEM. 

Myers: I'M NOT GOING TO EITHER.   YOU CAN COUNT ON THAT.  I BELIEVE THAT, YOU KNOW, I THINK THERE'S A -- SPEAKING OF WHAT I'VE SEEN, THEY'VE ALL BEEN OUT HERE.   SOME OF THEM HAVE BEEN OUT HERE ENOUGH TO VOTE.   BUT NEVERTHELESS, I THINK THAT SENATOR KERRY AND CONGRESSMAN GEPHARDT HAVE BEEN OUT HERE QUITE A BIT REALLY MAKING INROADS AND ORGANIZING.   THEY HAVE SOME VERY GOOD STAFF PEOPLE WORKING FOR THEM.   SO HAS GOVERNOR DEAN.   HE'S BEEN OUT HERE, OF COURSE, A GREAT DEAL.   THEY SEEM TO BE PUTTING TOGETHER THE BEST ORGANIZATION SO FAR.   BUT, YOU KNOW, IT'S A LONG WAY TO THE END AND PEOPLE ARE JUST REALLY GETTING TO FOCUS ON THIS NOW, BECAUSE BEFORE THAT THEY WERE FOCUSED ON THE PREVIOUS ELECTION. 

Glover: SENATOR GRONSTAL, SAME QUESTION TO YOU.   WHO'S HOT? 

Gronstal: I THINK THEY'RE ALL HOT.   I THINK THEY'RE ALL DOING GREAT.   I THINK THEY'RE ALL DOING A GREAT JOB OUT THERE, AND I WOULD ALSO SAY I DON'T THINK THE FIELD IS FULL YET.   I THINK THERE WILL BE OTHERS THAT ANNOUNCE. 

Borg: THAT MAY BE TRUE BUT WE ARE OUT OF TIME HERE.   SO THANK YOU.   WE MUST CONCLUDE.   ON OUR NEXT EDITION  OF "IOWA PRESS," WE'LL GET PERSPECTIVE FROM IOWA'S EXECUTIVE BRANCH.   GOVERNOR TOM VILSACK JOINING US AT 6:30 FRIDAY, WITH A SUNDAY NOON REBROADCAST.  I HOPE YOU'LL WATCH.   AND THAT'S IT FOR THIS WEEKEND'S EDITION OF "IOWA PRESS."   I'M DEAN BORG.   THANKS FOR JOINING US TODAY. 

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