Governor-elect Terry Branstad is hosting a fundraiser next week at a Des Moines restaurant to raise money from private donors to finance the transition of power in state government.
The current budget is $10,000. That’s the amount of state tax dollars set aside by a long-standing state law for a transition to a new governor. Dave Roederer, the Branstad aide who’s managing the transition, says Branstad’s staff is being both cautious and creative with those limited resources.
“It’s no different than what Iowans are doing every day with a tough economy,” Roederer says. “They’re having to be innovative. They’re having to do things that they wouldn’t maybe have thought of, had they had the resources to do it, so we’re no different than anyone else.”
However, a lot more money was set aside for the last two transition periods for a new governor. Back in the spring of 1998, Branstad agreed with legislators to set aside $125,000 in state tax money to finance what became Tom Vilsack’s transition to governor. In 2006 when Vilsack prepared to leave office, Vilsack also set aside far more than just the $10,000 stipulated by Iowa law.
Roederer says he can understand why the Democratically-controlled legislature may not have wanted to draw up a six-figure budget for a new governor’s transition when Democrat Chet Culver was seeking reelection.
“In fairness, what makes this unique is it’s been 50 years since an incument governor (of Iowa) did not leave office voluntarily, so I can understand a governor running for reelection wouldn’t necessarily want to put in his budget that there was going to be a transition — assuming that he wasn’t going to win,” Roederer says.
Roederer and two other Branstad staffers are being paid a salary to work on the transition. Everyone else who’s working on the project is volunteering their time.
Roederer will ask legislators to change state law to ensure a larger amount is set aside for future transitions, avoiding the prospect of a governor who seeks reelection having to suggest an amount be allocated for his opponent’s transition to power.