Governor Chet Culver says he disagrees with the Senate Republicans who’ve suggested the state shouldn’t replace any of the 2,100 state workers who’ve retired early.
“I don’t think they understand the important functions of state government if they are suggesting we don’t hire back essential employees,” Culver says. “We need correctional officers. We need folks at the Department of Health and Human Services. We need to hire important critical public safety positions at the Department of Public Safety and the Department of Transportation, so I couldn’t disagree with them more.”
Culver said last week he’d authorize the hiring of 1,100 workers to fill some of the posts left empty after those 2,100 executive branch employees accepted an early retirement incentive package. Republican Senator Randy Feenstra of Hull says Culver shouldn’t hire hundreds of new state workers given the current economic conditions.
Culver’s not backing down from his hiring plan. “We have to ensure that essential services are delivered efficiently and effectively. We have saved $89 million with our early retirement program and that includes hiring back these essential jobs, so overall we’ve saved $275 million in terms of government reorg and efficiency, including early retirement,” Culver says, “so we’re managing government effectively and responsibly.”
June 30th was the last day of the 2010 state budgeting year and Culver says his decision to cut the budget by 10%, across-the-board, last October, puts the state in a good position. “It looks like we’re going to have as much as a $100 million above projections at the end of the fiscal year in terms of revenue,” Culver says. “We’re going to have $500 million in our cash reserves and emergency funds and our ending balance, so we’re better positioned than any state in America today.”
Culver’s campaign manager on Tuesday afternoon released a packet of photo copies to reporters, charging that Culver’s Republican foe, Terry Branstad, abused his power when he was governor for 16 years. The packet included copies of Branstad campaign fundraising letters that had been printed on stationery from the governor’s office. Culver campaign manager Donn Stanley says Branstad used the governor’s office in a “self-serving” way.
Earlier on Tuesday, Culver told a group of reporters he was going on the offensive. “What I’m going to do is I’m going to set the record straight. There’s been a lot of misleading information put out there by the Branstad camp. For example, Terry Branstad goes across this state saying we don’t have any budget surplus. That’s just flat-out wrong,” Culver said. “In fact, after the end of this fiscal year we’ll have in excess of $500 million in our surplus.”
Culver also hit Branstad on another issue. “He took eight pay raises. At a time when, you know, people are hurting they need to know that this governor took eight pay raises. I vetoed a pay raise and I cut my own pay 10%,” Culver said. “People need to know what our values are, what we stand for and what our records are.”
Branstad’s campaign manager called the attacks from Culver’s campaign “sad and pathetic.” In regards to the documents from Branstad’s 16-year tenure in the governor’s office, the Branstad campaign counters that Culver has failed to release a series of e-mail correspondence to the public seeking more information about the governor’s response to the scandal in the Iowa film office.