Tuesday, February 02, 2010

House Approves Reorganization

The Iowa House overwhelmingly approved a plan Tuesday to encourage thousands of state workers to retire early. I say overwhelmingly. It wasn't unanimous. Sioux City Republican Representative Chris Rants offered the only "no" vote. He said it wasn't an attention getter, even though he is running for governor and trailing badly in popularity and money in the polls and reports I have seen so far.

Rants said he just can't justify spending so much money to lure long-time state workers into retirement at a time so many in the private sector are getting laid off without much, if any, kind of severance plan. He said after doing the math, his no vote just made sense. He said offering retirees $1,000 per year of service up to 25 years, plus five years of state paid health care at $8,000 a year could add up to $65,000 per employee. He said that's too much, so he had to vote "no". He said he does question whether his vote even made sense politically since saving money (supporters said this could save nearly $60 million in the coming year by getting workers to retire early) is what Republicans have been calling for for years.

Democratic leaders disagree, obviously. They sent out this release:


Des Moines, Iowa – The Iowa House today approved a plan to save the state $60 million with in the next year and help balance the state budget.

“In these tough budget times, I’m glad we’re taking action to find savings and provide services to Iowans more efficiently. The plan we approved will help keep the budget balanced while protecting key priorities for middle class families like education, good-paying jobs, and affordable health care,” said State Representative Marcie Frevert of Emmetsburg, who managed the bill in the House.

Senate File 2062, which was approved on a 96-1 voted, implements an early retirement plan for eligible state employees. The bill is just one piece of a package of state government reorganization plans under consideration by the Iowa Legislature this year. The bill now goes back to the Senate.

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