The head of Governor-elect Terry Branstad’s transition team says “all options” are on the table as Branstad considers how to pay for the new contract covering pay and benefits for state workers who’re members of the AFSCME union.
Out-going Governor Culver has approved a new deal with the union for pay raises that’ll be effective in July and then another round of pay hikes in July of the following year. Branstad wants to reopen contract negotiations, with the goal of getting workers to agree to a pay freeze. Branstad aide Dave Roederer says if negotiations aren’t reopened to reduce payroll costs, state worker layoffs may be necessary.
“We are exploring various options and various ideas,” Roederer says. “You know, we will have to work department-by-department in order to see, in fact, how we could deal with that and look at all options. We haven’t explored everything yet.”
Roederer will be Branstad’s budget director and he says it’s “unfortunate” that Branstad may open his fifth term as governor with a confrontation with state workers over their pay and benefits.
“What’s unfortunate when you get in these discussions is that it boils down to whether you think somebody deserves a pay raise or whether they don’t. That’s not the issue…The question is whether or not you have the resources to do it,” Roederer says. “Look all of us in our businesses we’ve gone through this. You know, I don’t think anybody who has either had to take a furlough or didn’t get a pay raise or got a pay decrease, anybody came and said, ‘You know, we don’t think you’re worth this, so that’s why we’re doing it.’ It’s not that.”
Roederer says the state has a “structural deficit” and a $100 million package for state employee pay raises adds to the red ink.
“We all need to work together and we need to work together as we go through this process and we plan on approaching it from that aspect,” Roederer says, “and unfortunately this was a little bit of a bump.”
Roederer says both management and labor consider providing essential state government services their mutual, “number one” goal. “Now there’s always a dispute or a disagreement I should say about what are the necessary services that need to be provided to Iowans,” Roederer says, “and that’s what we’re looking at.”
Getting some of the detailed financial information about state government from the Culver administration has been more “cumbersome” than anticipated, according to Roederer, and it “may take longer” than he’d hoped to draw up state budget plans for the coming year. Roederer served as Branstad’s liason to the legislature and then as Branstad’s chief of staff during Branstad’s previous 16-year run as governor.