A legislator from southeast Iowa says he doubts state employees will respond to Governor Branstad’s call to voluntarily agree to pay 20 percent of their health insurance premiums.
“It basically would be a pay cut,” Fraise says.
Branstad announced today that he would give up $224 of his own salary each month to cover 20 percent of the premium on the health insurance for him and his wife. The Republican governor has asked state workers to voluntarilly sign-up to make the same move and the lieutenant governor, who will start paying $153 per month to cover her own health insurance premium, expects a “significant” number of state employees to follow their lead. Fraise scoffs.
“If we were in a financial crisis, yeah, maybe, but when we’re sitting with a surplus and then ask employees to pay…part of their insurance, that would be, basically, a pay cut,” Fraise says. “And why?”
Fraise says it’s easy for the governor — who makes a $130,000 annual salary — to contemplate a pay cut of over $200 per month, but not so easy for rank-and-file state workers who make far less. Fraise does expect Branstad’s agency directors to do give up part of their pay to cover their insurance premiums.
“If he asks them to, they will voluntarily do it,” Fraise says, “but that’s because he’s the head dog.”
The top Republican in the Iowa Senate has said he will forgo part of his pay to cover 20 percent of his insurance premium, calling it “the right thing to do.” Three Republicans who hold statewide office — State Auditor Dave Vaudt, Ag Secretary Bill Northey and Secretary of State Matt Schultz — have all agreed to give up part of their pay, too, to cover one-fifth of their insurance premium costs.