Governor Terry Branstad disputes critics who say his strong opposition to the closure of 178 rural Iowa post offices is inconsistent with his decision to close 36 Workforce Development offices with staff who provided job counseling services to unemployed Iowans.
“You have to deal with the budget realities and we accept that the Postal Services needs to do that, too, but I have seen no plan,” Branstad says. “If they had put together a thoughtful plan, that’d be another thing, but they haven’t.”
Branstad’s plan to shift job-help services online at libraries, community colleges, National Guard Armories and other facilities, saves about $15 million in the more than $6 billion state budget. Branstad argues that’s different than the Postal Service plan to close rural Iowa post offices.
“I think they’re panicking,” Branstad says. “…What we’re going in state government is recognizing we had more government than we can afford and we’ve got to do things differently.”
Branstad and his wife own a dozen buildings which are rented by the Postal Service, including the post office in Lohrville that is targeted for closure. Iowa Democratic Party chairwoman Sue Dvorsky says while she opposes the Postal Service closure plan, too, Branstad is “protecting his own interests while leaving many Iowans without the assistance they need” at the Workforce Development offices.
“Here’s the situation: I’m the governor of the whole State of Iowa (and of ) the 178 post offices that are threatened, there’s only one that my wife and I that’s in that list and that’s the smallest one of the ones that we have, so the impact on us is very minimal,” Branstad says. “But the impact on those communities is very significant.”
The chairwoman of the Iowa Democratic Party says Branstad “needs to be an advocate for all Iowans,” including jobless Iowans. Branstad says pensions and health care costs are what’s the problem for the Postal Service.
“Let me tell you, they can close all these offices (and) they don’t make a dent, they don’t even make a little dent in their deficit,” Branstad told reporters this morning. “So they haven’t dealt with the situation and it’s not sustainable and it’s not workable.”
The head of the U.S. Postal Service is testifying before congress today, asking for a bail-out to deal with the institution’s deficit. Branstad says some ideas, like an end to Saturday delivery, would make more sense than closing offices. Branstad has asked the Postal Service to put a moratorium on post office closures. A handful of Democratic legislators are trying to keep the Workforce Development offices open, too, and have filed a lawsuit challenging the governor’s decision to overrule the legislature’s wishes.