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February 6th, 2010

ITR Budget Savings Measures Move Forward

itr logoThis week the Legislature advanced Senate File 2088, the state government reorganization bill. As the state faces a budget gap of more than one billion dollars, lawmakers are looking at ways to trim the massive budget through the restructuring of some state government operations.

Unfortunately, the state government reorganization bill Senate File 2088, only goes a short distance to closing the sizeable budget hole. In the Governor’s proposed budget, he recommended the Legislature consider a large scale state government reorganization plan estimated to save at least $341 million. However, current estimates from the non-partisan Legislative Fiscal Services Division show the bill only saves the State General Fund $71.6 million.

Some of the key pieces of the legislation include:

* Increasing the ratio of employees to supervisors for all Executive Branch agencies.
* Eliminating up to 255 Full Time Equivalent positions.
* Consolidating state Information Technology operations.

On Monday, February 1st, while debating Senate File 2088 in the Iowa Senate, Senator Randy Feenstra (R-Hull) offered an amendment and incorporated several of the budget savings measures Iowans for Tax Relief has proposed in an effort to further the savings. The amendment, which failed on a vote of 18-32, included the following ITR budget savings suggestions:

* Charging state employees $40 a month for health insurance premiums.
* Renegotiate the current state employee salary contract, and include a state employee pay reduction of five percent and no salary increase.
* End taxpayer funded state lobbyists.
* Making the 99 percent state expenditure limitation part of the Iowa Constitution.

After a lengthy debate, the Senate approved the bill on a vote of 35-15.

On the other side of the Capitol, the House State Government Committee considered the state government reorganization bill over the course of two days of committee meetings. During the committee meeting on Wednesday, February 3rd, House Republican Committee Members offered an amendment incorporating ITR budget savings measures, in addition to other cost-savings ideas. The House Republican amendment, which lost on a vote of 9-12, included the following Iowans for Tax Relief proposals:

* End taxpayer funded state lobbyists.
* Combining the administration of the three Iowa Regents Universities.
* Curb illegal immigration.

There is no doubt the state government reorganization bill in the current form does not save enough taxpayer dollars to close the budget gap. However, the legislation is not in the final form, and there are more opportunities for Legislators to add the Iowans for Tax Relief budget savings measures before Senate File 2088 moves to the Governor’s desk. (Read all of the ITR budget savings proposals here.)

It is time for a major state government reorganization to shrink the budget gap, without increasing taxes, and curb state spending. These difficult economic times call for increased government efficiency, reducing redundancy, and getting government out of the way of Iowa families so we all can prosper.

Legislators have scheduled a public hearing for Senate File 2088 on Monday, February 8th at 10:00 am at the Capitol. Iowa taxpayers are encouraged to come to hear the debate and have their voices heard.

Governor Signs Executive Order on Project Labor Agreements

On Wednesday, February 3rd, Governor Culver signed Executive Order 22 requiring all state departments to consider using Project Labor Agreements (PLAs) on large-scale construction projects. A PLA is a comprehensive pre-hire collective bargaining agreement negotiated between the owner of the project (in this instance, the State of Iowa or a department of the state) and an appropriate labor organization setting the basic terms and working conditions for a particular project.

Typically, PLAs increase the costs of projects by reducing competition among contractors. In asking state departments to consider using PLAs, Governor Culver will effectively increase the cost of state construction projects for Iowa taxpayers. Once again, Governor Culver is digging government deeper into Iowans’ pockets.

Iowans for Tax Relief President Ed Failor, Jr. made the following statement on Executive Order 22:

“It is unfortunate Governor Culver wakes up in the morning trying to payoff Union Bosses instead of serving taxpayers.

“Governor Culver is clearly willing to again drive up the cost of government. That is a horrendous judgment and displays an utter lack of leadership at a time when Iowa’s budget is facing a massive hole.”

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The Iowa Republican

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