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October 22nd, 2009

1391 Jobs Lost – One Person to blame: Governor Chet Culver

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Written by: Craig Robinson
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Culver CrisisIowa’s unemployment rate remained at 6.7 percent this month. The report from the Iowa Workforce Development office showed that the state lost 1,200 jobs in the month of September. Some might find comfort that the unemployment rate didn’t increase for the first time in 2009. However, the news came on the day when state government agencies announced that 1391 jobs would be eliminated as a result of Governor Culver’s 10 percent across-the-board cuts.

That’s right, more jobs were lost yesterday than were lost in the entire month of September. The hardest areas hit by Culver’s cuts were the Department of Human Service, which cut 228 positions and the Department of Corrections, which cut 777 positions. A large portion of the job cuts could have been prevented had Governor Culver taken recommendations from his department heads and Republican legislators who combined to offer $392 million in proposed cuts and cost saving measures.

We now know that the proposed $392 million in cuts could have prevented most of the jobs eliminations that occurred yesterday. Those proposed savings could have also been used to prevent future tax increases.

For starters, both the Department of Corrections and Department of Human Services could have been spared Culver’s 10 percent cut. That would use up just over $179 million from the savings that Culver’s department heads and Republican legislators had offered. Sparing those departments from Culver’s 10 percent cut would have saved 1005 jobs.

Culver’s 10 percent cut also eliminated more than $238 million in school aid. It has been reported in newspapers all across the state that school districts will be forced to raise local property taxes to make up the difference. This could have been prevented too had Culver followed through on the recommendations presented to him. In fact, Governor Culver and the legislature would have only needed to find an additional $26 million (beyond the previously recommended cuts) to reach the $418 million needed to keep the state’s commitment to school districts and fully fund DHS and the Department of Corrections.

In tough economic times, families and state government have to make tough decisions. Below are some of the Republican proposals that Culver has ignored.

Eliminate phantom full-time employee positions. Savings: $25,000,000

Pay reduction for all state employees and officials. Savings: $72,500,000

Charge state employees a monthly fee for health insurance premiums. Savings: $17,800,000

Sell the vehicle fleet, outsource vehicle leasing. Savings: $34,000,000

Reduce office supplies, service contracts, and equipment purchases. Savings: $10,000,000

Combine all state information technology systems. Savings: $20,000,000

Sell or lease the Iowa Communications Network. Savings: $15,000,000

Reduce funding for library acquisitions at Regents by 50%. Savings: $13,500,000

No DNR land acquisition for FY 2010. Savings: $5,000,000

Freeze out-of-state travel. Savings: $1,500,000

In Governor Culver’s new campaign ad, he says, “Nobody likes to make tough decisions, but as governor, it’s my responsibility. At the end of the ad he utters a similar line, “I chose tough medicine today to build a stronger Iowa tomorrow.” The tough decision would have been to call a special session and find at least $418 million that would have spared 1005 jobs and prevented property taxes from being increased.

We now know that it wouldn’t have really been that difficult of a task. Republicans and Culver’s department heads stepped up and proposed the bulk of the cuts that were needed to prevent the majority of job cuts and the need to increase property taxes. It remains a mystery why Governor Culver discarded their ideas. It’s also a mystery why legislative Democrats have failed to offer any budget cutting recommendations of their own.

Maybe one of the reasons why Culver opted for the across-the-board cuts is because he’s unable to comprehend the mess the state is actually in and doesn’t know how to find ways to lessen the impact of budget cuts. Last week, when Culver announced that he would cut his pay, the media praised him for his symbolic gesture. Now comes word that he screwed that up, too. The Des Moines Register reported last night that Culver only cut his pay by $7,000 or 5.6 percent. The Governor’s office pointed out that pay cuts are not retroactive, so Culver’s pay cut would only be $7,000 instead of $13,000. This is an insignificant gaffe for the Governor, but it’s embarrassing. It highlights the concerns that many Iowans have about Governor Culver. He is incompetent and in over his head.

Iowans understand these are tough economic times, but they also want a competent chief executive. Governor Culver may say the right things in his campaign ads, but his decision to subject all departments to a 10 percent across-the-board cut was just plain lazy. Not only did it cost 1391 people their jobs yesterday, but every school district has been affected, and as a result, property taxes are on their way up. Most of this could have been avoided had Culver listened to his department heads and reached across the aisle to work with Republicans.

Photo by Dave Davidson

About the Author

Craig Robinson
Craig Robinson is the founder and editor-in-chief of, a political news and commentary site he launched in March of 2009. Robinson’s political analysis is respected across party lines, which has allowed him to build a good rapport with journalist across the country. Robinson has also been featured on Iowa Public Television’s Iowa Press, ABC’s This Week, and other local television and radio programs. Campaign’s & Elections Magazine recognized Robinson as one of the top influencers of the 2012 Iowa Caucuses. A 2013 Politico article sited Robinson and as the “premier example” of Republican operatives across the country starting up their own political news sites. His website has been repeatedly praised as the best political blog in Iowa by the Washington Post, and in January of 2015, Politico included him on the list of local reporters that matter in the early presidential states. Robinson got his first taste of Iowa politics in 1999 while serving as Steve Forbes’ southeast Iowa field coordinator where he was responsible for organizing 27 Iowa counties. In 2007, Robinson served as the Political Director of the Republican Party of Iowa where he was responsible for organizing the 2007 Iowa Straw Poll and the 2008 First-in-the-Nation Iowa Caucuses. Following the caucuses, he created his own political news and commentary site, Robinson is also the President of Global Intermediate, a national mail and political communications firm with offices in West Des Moines, Iowa, and Washington, D.C. Robinson utilizes his fundraising and communications background to service Global’s growing client roster with digital and print marketing. Robinson is a native of Goose Lake, Iowa, and a 1999 graduate of St. Ambrose University in Davenport, where he earned degrees in history and political science. Robinson lives in Ankeny, Iowa, with his wife, Amanda, and son, Luke. He is an active member of the Lutheran Church of Hope.

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