Iowa’s Republican governor and legislators from both parties struck an agreement that keeps Iowa Workforce Development operating through June 30th after a Supreme Court ruling tossed the state agency’s budget into chaos. But the battle lines are being drawn for the next state budgeting year and the future of regional Workforce Developmnent offices that help out-of-work Iowans search for a job.
Senator Bill Dotzler, a Democrat from Waterloo, is a key supporter of having state offices around the state where unemployed can meet face-to-face with a job counselor.
“They’re telling us upfront…expect to see at least two more field offices shut down,” Dotzler says. “…One will probably be Webster City, because that was under a federal grant.”
The federal funds were to be used to help workers find jobs after the Electrolux plant in Webster City closed on March 31st of last year. Dotzler suspects the regional Workforce Development office in Decorah may be on the chopping block, too.
“We have to be committed to the 90,000 unemployed Iowans who need these services,” Dotzler says. “…Individuals need the extra help.”
Governor Branstad’s administration shut 36 regional Workforce Development offices and has been shifting state-financed job-search services online, through links at public libraries, schools and National Guard armories. Branstad argues it’s more efficient and available to job-seekers during the evening hours and on Saturdays, while the state-run offices ran just during regular week-day business hours.
Dotzler was among the legislators who successfully sued Branstad, arguing he didn’t have the authority to go against the wishes of legislators and close those offices. The Iowa Supreme Court ruling on the case, however, tossed part of the agency’s budget out, too. Legislators passed a stop-gap measure this week to keep the agency operating through June 30th, which is the end of the current state budgeting year.