The Iowa Senate has approved a bill Republicans hope will curb salary increases for state workers. Senator Neal Schuerer, a republican from Amana, says state employee salaries have gotten out of hand over the past 10 years. Schuerer says the average salary of a state employee has grown seven percent in the past decade, while state tax revenue grew about five-percent a year. Schuerer says that’s an imbalance could be righted by considering comperable private-sector wages when state employee unions are negotiating contracts. Scheurer says the state’s collective bargaining law has been “tipped a bit” in favor of the employees’ side. Schuerer says the latest contract is so expensive, some workers will have to be laid off if others are to get the negotiated raises. Democrats say the changes will tilt negotiations in favor of the state. Senator Mike Connolly, a democrat from Dubuque, says republicans are making state workers the scapegoats for bad economic times. Connolly says republicans are “taking it out of the hides” of public employees, and he says the state should try and win higher wages for private-sector workers rather than “flog” public employees. Connolly says the bill is unnecessary. Connolly says the current bargaining rules have worked well for 30 years, and the changes Republicans propose could open up the state to legal challenges. The bill passed the Senate on a party-line 26-to-22 margin and now goes to the House.
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