Some state government workers in the Departments of Education and Workforce Development and in the Iowa National Guard are likely to be furloughed if across-the-board federal budget cuts kick in Friday. However, Iowa Governor Terry Branstad doesn’t have an exact estimate of the impact of the so-called “sequestration”on state government operations.
“We have no clue,” Branstad told reporters this morning. “The president has put out, you know, information about their estimate. We have different estimates from different people, but it all depends upon how they manage it…It just shows you the dysfunction in Washington. They’re spending all their time pointing fingers…We are going to try to deal with it as best we can.”
According to a document released by the White House, about 2000 civilian Department of Defense workers in Iowa would be furloughed, but it did not specify how many of those are employed by the Iowa National Guard. In addition, the state of Iowa will lose $376,000 for job search and referral programs — most likely a reduction that will hit the Iowa Workforce Development agency. The White House estimates a $6.4 million reduction in federal support of K-through-12 public schools in Iowa as well. Branstad blames the “political dysfunction” in Washington, D.C. for creating uncertainty.
“You can look at the estimates they put out of Washington, D.C.,” Branstad said this morning. “We assume they’re not lying to us, but we’ll have to see whether indeed it’s exactly the way they’re predicting it.”
Iowa Department of Management director Dave Roederer has been working with state agency directors to plan for the federal cuts.
“I would say about half of them will be impacted,” Roederer told reporters this morning. “As the governor pointed out, the information that came out from the (Obama) Administration I would say is half correct. The numbers that they put forward are obviously correct, but the cause and effect, that is not necessarily correct.”
For instance, the White House document estimates 160 teachers and teachers aides could lose their jobs as a result of the $6.4 million cut in federal support of K-through-12 schools. Roederer suggests a total of $50 million in federal support of education programs in Iowa may be affected.
“The other thing which our folks are doing here in Iowa is we are taking the approach of what will be the least disruptive to all of the recipients of the programs that we have,” Roederer says. “And I expect that this all will be changing on a daily basis and even on an hourly basis as we go through.”
Governor Branstad points to this “sequestration” episode as another reason he’s not going to expand government-paid Medicaid health care coverage to 150,000 more Iowans. Branstad, a Republican, has repeatedly said he doesn’t trust the federal government to fulfill its promise to provide the money for that expansion.