The president of the union which represents the largest share of state workers is blasting Governor Branstad over the issue of bonuses.

Branstad, a Republican, used his item veto authority to reject a proposal that passed the legislature which would have banned bonuses for all state employees.

AFSCME Council 61 president Danny Homan says Branstad’s action is “a  travesty.”

“This guy has been running around the state telling the citizens how the state’s going broke because they’re giving the union employees a two percent raise and a one percent raise and now he’s going to allow for bonuses for his department heads,” Homan says. “…He’s going to be able to give them a bonus.” 

Branstad says the ban on bonuses would have “unduly” limited his authority to “reward exceptional employees.” Homan says it “smells” like a looming pay scandal to him.

“There’s no transparency. There’s going to be no checks-and-balances,” Homan says. “It’s just wrong.”

Homan is also warning staffing is dangerously low in the state’s prison system. 

“It’s just a mess and all of state government’s going to be a mess and I believe that’s what this governor wants to do: create a mess, then blame it on the worker. This is not the workers’ fault,” Homan says. “This is his fault and it should fall back on his shoulders.” 

Homan made his comments this morning during a telephone conference call with reporters.

In early 2009 Republican legislators blasted then-Governor Chet Culver, a Democrat, for giving bonuses to top state administrators — seven months after Culver already had banned bonuses. One legislator — Republican Representative Clel Baudler of Greenfield — suggested bonuses for state workers were akin to “raping the taxpayer.” Then, in the fall of 2009, three Republican legislators called on the Culver administration to ensure bonuses were not given to the presidents of the three state universities.

In 2006, Republican legislators criticized then-Governor Tom Vilsack for planning to award bonuses to state employees who helped organize the National Governors Association meeting in Des Moines.  Vilsack, a Democrat, abandoned the plan after Republican State Auditor Dave Vaudt advised Vilsack not to give the bonuses to state employees because the bonuses came from the private donations raised to put on the national meeting.