The president of the state’s largest employees union is critical of the budget plan Governor Terry Branstad released Thursday that calls for $360-million in state budget cuts. AFSCME Council 61 president, Danny Homan, is especially critical of cuts to education.
Homan says area education agencies, the regents institutions, community colleges and other education funding take “severe hits” in the governor’s proposal. “If we’re going to attract the kind of good-paying jobs that Governor Branstad has talked about creating, we must keep the high standard of education and opportunity that Iowans have traditionally had,” Homan said.
The governor has said that union workers will get a 15% raise when step increases for experience are figured into the deal agreed to by the previous governor. Homan says those facts are wrong. Homan says more than 50% of the union workers will not receive anything but the negotiated increases, and the total cost of the union negotiated wage costs in the next fiscal year are roughly 15-million dollars, and the step costs are roughly $19-million.
Homan says the remaining amount of the $89-million labor costs are the governor’s responsibility. Homan says he doesn’t know who the governor believes is getting the other $55-million but he believes it is the administration staff and unrepresented state workers. “I really don’t know what the governor wants to do, or won’t do, because the governor has not talked to this union,” Homan said, “so I can’t comment past that.”
An advisor to the governor recommended last week that the negotiating process, known as “Chapter 20” be changed. Homan commented for the first time on that idea. Homan says Chapter 20 was passed in 1974 by then Governor Ray and a bipartisan House and Senate and he says it has worked well. He says the proposals for change from the governor’s office are “radical changes” and not moderate changes and are changes the union will not support.
Homan said again he will not talk publicly about whether the union would be open to renegotiating the contract approved before Branstad took office.