House speaker on “Iowa Press”

House Speaker Pat Murphy, discussing GOP attacks on Governor Culver: “They’re trying to say the emperor has no clothes when he’s fully clothed — and he has a hat on.” 

House Speaker Pat Murphy (D-Dubuque, Iowa) is the guest on this weekend’s “Iowa Press” program on Iowa Public Television.  Murphy talked about a wide variety of issues, from the state budget situation to his endorsement of Roxanne Conlin.  After the show, Murphy talked about shutting down one of the state’s Mental Health Institutes.  (Read about that here.)

During the show, Murphy said there was no “quid pro quo” with the labor unions (AFSCME & the State Police Officers Council) that agreed to wage and benefit concessions in order to avoid layoffs in the executive branch of state government.

Here are key Murphy statements on other topics:

  • “I would agree at this time with the governor that we should rule out a tax increase,” Murphy said.
  • Those who get state tax credits will have to “prove” there’s a return on the state’s investment, according to Murphy.  “I think some may have a problem,” Murphy said, adding one likely outcome may be more “caps” on tax credits — essentially limiting the amount the state pays out for different tax credits.  “I think that’s the kind of stuff we’ll end up doing.”
  • Will legislators authorize video lottery games?  “I think if you polled legislators, I think you would find out that there’s probably not enough votes to do that, but once we get into the legislative process and people have to make tough decisions, you may have that discussion come up…Come March, we might look at that program.”
  • Murphy says legislators will likely pass a bill that forces school districts that have healthy cash reserves to dip into those cash reserves rather than raise property taxes. 
  • Murphy on a couple of occasions offered an argument on an issue which was a veiled hit at former Governor Terry Branstad. 
  • Murphy said if he can get the 51 votes he needs, he’ll bring up any of the labor-related bills that unions had hoped would clear the 2009 Iowa Legislature.  “I think it’s a possibility,” Murphy said.  Which one might be top of his list?  Murphy said: “Tune in in 2010 and see what we do.”
  • As for whether the bill that would have changed Iowa’s income tax system will be resurrected, Murphy said:  “I don’t know yet.”
  • Murphy said he will support the reelection of the six conservative Democrats who refused to support the labor bills and that tax bill.  If any of those six get a primary opponent, Murphy said he would support the incumbents, not the challengers in a Democratic primary — for any House seat.  “I support our incumbents and I always will. Period,” Murphy said.
  • Murphy was asked about the potential match-up of Representative McKinley Bailey, a Democrat from Webster City, who may face former Senate Republican Leader Stewawt Iverson of Clarion (a former Iowa GOP chairman), in 2010.  “I expect (Bailey) to get reelected, but I will say this about Senator Iverson — and no disrespect to Senator Mike Gronstal — I don’t think Senator Iverson had tough opponents.  He’ll find out that he has his hands full with a guy who has served his country in Iraq and Afghanistan and has done an excellent job as a legislator for Hamilton and Wright. I  think (Iverson) will find his hands more full than he has ever had them in his political life and I hope (Iverson) doesn’t mind defeat.” 
  • Murphy recently spoke by phone with Roxanne Conlin, one of three Democrats who are seeking the party’s US Senate nomination and the chance to face-off against Republican Senator Chuck Grassley in November, 2010.  During the IPTV program taping, Murphy revealed he’s told Conlin during that conversation in the primary.  “I think Roxanne Conlin brings some unique skills.  She has always fought for the underdog.  She’s always fought for middle class families.  She’s helped the state in the Microsoft case.  She is the best example of a private citizen that has done more for public causes in Iowa than anybody and quite frankly, she has delivered a lot more than Senator Grassley has in the state.”  Murphy predicted Conlin would give Grassley the “best race he’s had in 30 years.”  
  • Murphy said Governor Culver is well-positioned for reelection, despite polls which show Culver may be in trouble.  “Part of the reason his numbers are down is he’s having to make tough decisions but if you take a look at where Tom Vilsack was at this same time seven years ago, his numbers weren’t particularly good either…I think it’s pretty hard for Republicans to argue (Culver’s) mismanaging the state budget….They’re trying to say the emperor has no clothes when he’s fully clothed — and he has a hat on.” 
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About O.Kay Henderson

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