Democrats vow to fight the proposed closure of 39 Iowa Workforce Development field offices around the state. Senate President Jack Kibbie, a Democrat from Emmetsburg, says the agency has part-time offices today in each of the four counties he represents in northern Iowa.

“They’re all housed now in the (Iowa State University) Extension offices and in the public libraries, so there’s no infrastructure costs. There’s no heat and lights. It’s just a matter of having a Workforce person there, come there a few hours a week or a few days a week,” Kibbie says.

“And, you know, it’s a huge issue out there.” According to Kibbie, it’s the expertise of the Workforce Development employee that really helps an out-of-work Iowan look for a job, not the bricks-and-mortar office itself. The new director of the Iowa Workforce Development agency has proposed laying off 70 employees in the department as part of the down-sizing. Kibbie says Democrats don’t want to take that route.

“And at this time when we’ve got unemployment numbers that we hear a lot about and jobs that are needed, I think now is the wrong time,” Kibbie says. The top Republican in the House says Governor Branstad’s new Workforce Development director likely has the authority to close the offices and lay off the 70 people on her own, without legislative action.