Governor Chet Culver says no government employee in the state should expect a pay raise in the current economic environment. Culver suggests it may be time to reopen negotiations between his executive branch of state government and the unions that represent state workers and consider salary reductions for the state workforce.
“We have signed contracts that we will honor and talk about, perhaps,” Culver told reporters this morning. “So, it’s premature to know if we are going to change those agreements.”
Culver ordered a 10 percent, across-the-board cut in the executive branch of state government last week, raising the prospect of massive layoffs in each state agency. Some layoffs could be avoided if salary costs were reduced, and Culver seems ready to reopen contract negotiations.
“I’m going to sit down and we’re going to have a very candid conversation about what we can do, labor and management working together, to minimize the effect this is going to have on hard-working state employees,” Culver said during this morning’s taping of IPTV’s “Iowa Press.”
According to the governor, it is “premature” to discuss many of the details which may be covered in those negotiations. During this morning’s taping in an Iowa Public Television studio in Johnston, Culver made a point to open his discussion of state worker pay by thanking the unions and their negotiators.
“We’ve had very productive conversations about finding efficiencies, reorganizing government,” Culver said. “They have been actively involved in that process.”
According to Culver, everything should be on the table when the state budget is in such dire straights.
It’s not just state workers who are feeling the effects of the 10-percent cut in state spending. Public schools which depend upon state aid for financing will see a 10 percent cut in that state support, and school administrators will soon be sitting down with teachers to negotiate next year’s contracts.
“I think most people would understand that a salary increase in any government anywhere right now is not going to happen,” Culver said. “We do not have the resources.”
Culver discussed a variety of budget issues during this morning’s “Iowa Press” taping and suggested the current economic climate may prompt major reorganization at all levels of government.