The first meeting of a new commission assembled to find ways to reorganize state government and save money in the process turned testy at times.
Republicans complained the Democratic governor’s staff has repeatedly refused to reveal cost saving ideas state agency directors suggested nearly a year ago. Representative Doug Stryuk, a Republican from Council Bluffs who is a member of the State Government Reorganization Commission, directly asked the governor’s budget director for that information.
“Will we get the full list so this committee does not have to reinvent that wheel?” Stryuk asked.
The governor’s aide told Stryuk the information would be released to the public, but later told reporters he had to check with a lawyer in the governor’s office first. Meanwhile, the president of the consulting firm Governor Culver hired to find ways to cut state government defended his firm’s work in the face Republican criticism. Eric Schnurer, president of Public Works — a consulting firm based in Philadelphia, pointed to the $10 billion in savings his company found for the state of Texas.
“There are all sorts of things going on in state government that if you simply look for them, you can save a couple of million dollars here, a couple of million dollars there and as somebody once said: ‘Pretty soon you’re talking money,’” Schnurer said.
Schnurer suggested there is savings to be had in better monitoring of state-government-run Medicaid.
“A study by the General Accounting Office in the federal government about 10, 15 years ago found that fraud rates in Medicaid ranged from 10 to 20 percent,” Schnurer said.
Republicans like Stryuk also complained Schnurer has met with top Democrats in the Iowa legislature, but hasn’t met with Republicans.
“We haven’t been given an opportunity to provide you with any insight, nor have we had dialogue,” Stryuk said.
The consultant told legislators their ideas in other states had prompted dramatic savings, like the move to unscrew light bulbs in the vending machines in Texas state government buildings, a move the consultant said saved Texas half-a-million dollars a year on the state’s electric bills.