A new report concludes the benefit package for state government employees is better than what’s normally offered to employees in 13 other states and a small group of businesses considered to be competitors for the same workers.
Iowa Department of Administrative Services director Mike Carroll says the analysis found state worker health care benefits were “well above the norm.”
Michelle Minnehan Golightly, the chief operating officer for the Iowa Department of Administrative Services, says Iowa is spending about $116 million more than its peers do on benefits and the main difference is the state now pays the entire health insurance premium for most of its workers.
“The market shows that 20 percent is in line,” Golightly says.
That means workers contribute 20 percent of the cost of their health insurance premium — something Republican Governor Branstad has been pressing for and is likely to demand as his administration sits down with the state workers’ unions in November to negotiate new contracts. Golightly says other options include requiring state workers to make a “co-payment” when they visit the doctor, or perhaps raising deductibles.
“We’re also looking at increasing the level of tiers,” Golightly says. “so that you’re paying a little bit more by the number of dependents you have if you have on the plan versus today — you’re going to pay the same if you have a spouse, or you have a spouse plus five children.”
The president of the union that represents the largest share of state workers says the report “is an attempt to mislead Iowans about public employee compensation” and distract Iowans from Branstad’s “record of failure” when it comes to creating new jobs in Iowa. AFSCME Council 61 president Danny Homan cites another study which found public employees in Iowa get total compensation packages that are six-to-eight percent less than their private sector counterparts with similar levels of education.