Culver on Iowa Press

Governor Chet Culver is the guest on this evening's "Iowa Press" program on IPTV.  It airs at 7:30 and is rebroadcast on Sunday at 11:30 a.m.

The taping of the program commenced shortly after 10 o'clock Friday morning.  Culver began the program by talking about the 1.5 percent cut he ordered — across the board — in the state budget, saying of the cuts that "I hope it's the end" of cutting in the current budgeting year.

In addressing critics who say he should have acted sooner, Culver argued the economic downturn impacted Iowa's economy "sooner than expected."  Culver suggested 43 of the 50 states are facing deficits totally $60 billion for the current budgeting year.

As for tax increases: "I've taken them off the table for now.".

"We have to be careful about any kind of tax increase on anybody in this recession," Culver said later in the program, responding to a question about local govt requests — from flood-ravaged areas — for new taxing authority to finance flood recovery.

"I'm for it, all the way," Culver said of requiring students to complete high school by raising the compulsory attendance age in Iowa law to 18.  "…It's about reform.  This is an easy step that will send a strong message to all of our kids….We expect you to graduate."

David Yepsen asked a question about the "rip off" of schools getting a full day's worth of state aid for a "snow day" in which school either starts late, or ends early.  Culver didn't bite and did not endorse the idea of paying school aid per hour rather than per day.

The next question was about leasing the Iowa Lottery, and Culver offered the same explanation he did yesterday regarding that idea.  "I think we have to make it very clear to the legislature and to all of our constituents out there…We have a very valuable asset out there in the Iowa Lottery….We have a lot of assets.  I think this is the time to look at all of those assets and evaluate them….so what I'm trying to do is present to the legislature options."

A few legislators have talked about letting bars have TouchPlay machines to make up for what the bar owners argue is lost business because of the smoking ban.  "I don't think TouchPlay's on the table," Culver said.

As for whether there'll be a backlash against him and other Democrats in the 2010 election, Culver predictably rejected the idea.  "I think what our constituents expect is leadership…They want elected officials to do the right thing.  I fell like I've done the right thing," Culver said of the 1.5 percent across the board budget cut. "..No one has suggested this is an easy job."

Will he run again? "I'm certainly looking at running against in 2010," Culver said.

In the closing minutes of the program, Culver suggested it might be time to merge some state agencies, or even shut down some areas in state buildings in order to save utility costs.

The last question was about Postville, and Culver said it was a "federal issue" and he does not anticipate the need for state action in response to the immigration raid at the Agriprocessors plant.

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About O.Kay Henderson

O. Kay Henderson is the news director of Radio Iowa.