Governor Tom Vilsack says about four-hundred fewer workers will be on the state payroll in the next state fiscal year as a result of the state budget plan republican legislators passed. Vilsack says it’s as if the state’s “been on the South Beach Diet for a while” and needs “to get that six minute ab tape and continue to work out.” About 70 percent of the workers who’ll be exiting state government are expected to take early retirement. The rest of the reduction would come through layoffs, attrition or even furloughs in some areas — if the state workers’ union agrees. Vilsack’s talking with union leaders about all sorts of other options.
Vilsack has asked the unions to give up their negotiated pay raises, but there’s been no willingness to accept that. Vilsack says it’s been a difficult few years in state government, as there’s been a roughly two-thousand worker reduction in the state workforce while he’s been governor.
That’s equivalent to a 10 percent cut in the number of workers on the state payroll, but Vilsack says there’s been no significant decline and in some cases an improvement in state services. As for how specific agencies might be affected by the latest workforce reduction, Vilsack says the Department of Corrections won’t lay off prison guards, but will probably lay off janitors, cooks and counselors. House Speaker Christopher Rants, a republican from Sioux City, released a statement after the governor’s news conference. The statement said, “It’s unfortunate because these layoffs could have been avoided. The Legislature stood by those people who were laid off, and their families, with our calls for a salary freeze that would have saved jobs. This is further evidence that the collective bargaining process needs to be reformed. The people at the bargaining table do not speak for those workers who will be laid off. A simple pay freeze would have gone a long way toward preventing today’s disheartening news