Governor Terry Branstad’s chief spokesman says state services for all unemployed Iowans have been put at risk because of an Iowa Supreme Court ruling.
The court ruled Branstad overstepped his item veto authority by rejecting legislators’ intent to keep 36 regional Workforce Development offices. Branstad redirected the money elsewhere, which the court ruled was unconstitutional. Branstad spoke with reporters a couple of hours after the ruling was issued.
“This decision has far-reaching implications,” Branstad said.
Branstad’s aides say the governor may order more than 200 layoffs in the Workforce Development agency, close the few regional Workforce Development offices that are still operating and shut down the on-line services the agency’s been providing to unemployed Iowans.
“The decision is complex and it has implications that need to be reviewed,” Branstad said during that midday interview in Northwood, Iowa. “We want to do the very best thing in terms of providing the best opportunity for people to have access to job opportunities. We’ve been working very hard to get more access to people.”
After Branstad ordered the closure of the 36 Workforce Development offices legislators had voted to keep open, the agency put “Virtual Access Sites” in public libraries, schools and National Guard armories. Librarians complain they’re spending too many hours — sometimes an entire day — helping job seekers navigate the website rather than helping other library patrons. Branstad and his staff counter that the website features a call-in number which is staffed on evenings and weekends, giving job seekers more time to connect by phone with a state-paid job counselor.
(Additional reporting in Northwood by Bob Fisher of KGLO/KRIB, Mason City)