Word of the Day – March 18, 2009

Word of the Day
Buy the rabbit – When a person gets the worst of a bargain, he is said to have “bought the rabbit.”
John Camden Hotten’s Slang Dictionary, 1887

Budget Discussions

  • Republicans believe the Governor and Legislative Democrats should accept their share of the blame for the fiscal mess the state is experiencing. It is not the fault of misguided federal policies, greedy Wall Street bankers or the natural disasters. We must be clear– when we left last May we had already had built ourselves a $563 million shortfall. We now face $800 million shortfall. Most of the shortfall was caused by a lack of discipline and a failure of foresight with Iowans’ dollars not by Washington or Wall Street or natural disasters.
  • Republicans are skeptical of the governor’s request to borrow $750 million through bonding. According to the State Auditor, using the RIIF for infrastructure (vertical or horizontal) would provide, in just a 3-year period, more than the $700 million of bonding proposed by the Governor that requires a 20-year payback.
  • If the infrastructure fund was used for what it was intended instead of spending it on various non-infrastructure priorities, this borrowing discussion wouldn’t be happening.

Big Union Bailout

  • “Fair Share” isn’t fair, it is a big union bailout. Unions are failing to retain and grow membership on their own so they are turning to their political allies in the Legislature to save them.
  • “Fair Share” is forced unionism. It forces non-union employees to pay dues to an organization that not only do not belong but also one that may disagree with substantially on political and social issues.
  • House Republican are opposed to the forced payment of union dues by non-union employees. House Republicans are also opposed to forcing unions to represent non-union employees.
  • A representative from SEIU told the Des Moines Register in January that the forced union dues won’t go to cover their costs associated with represented non-union members but instead will go to increased organizing and recruiting.

Doctor Shopping

  • This destroys an employer’s opportunity to contract for health care. As a result insurance premiums will increase greatly.
  • The bill, HF 530, provides that an employee may select their own doctor by having that doctor on file with the employer. There is no requirement that the doctor be a specialist or occupational physician or have any experience or specialty in the injury sustained by the employee.
  • This bill attempts to “fix” a system that is not broken.
  • Iowa workers already enjoy the highest maximum benefits of any state in the Midwest. Iowa’s rate of $1,206 per week outstrips the next highest performer, Minnesota, by $456 per week, and is far ahead of Nebraska, Illinois, South Dakota, Kansas, Missouri, and Wisconsin. In fact, Iowa is ranked third nationally, behind only the District of Columbia and New Hampshire.

Prevailing Wage

  • The battle over the prevailing wage bill isn’t over. Democratic leaders and the Governor have vowed to pressure those Democrats who voted “nay” into voting “aye” before the end of the session.
  • The prevailing wage bill favors large contractors at the expense of small rural contractors. The fringe benefit requirements contained in the bill price many small contractors out of the bidding process.
  • The bill requires all contractors to offer fringe benefits such as a pension and vacation. The problem for small rural contractors is that since some of their job will only last a few weeks, instead of paying the fringe benefits they are required to increase the pay of the employee by the same amount.
  • The same Fiscal Note estimated that project costs would increase 10 percent to 12 percent increase due to prevailing wage.
  • The last state to pass prevailing wage legislation was Minnesota, in 1973. Nine states have since repealed their laws, including Ohio. When Ohio repealed the prevailing wage for school construction, the projects saw a 10 percent reduction in project costs.

Other Message Points

  • According to The Des Moines Register, Iowa lost 17,500 jobs in 2008. That is like losing an entire town the size of Coralville. In January, there were over 80,000 Iowans out of work according to Iowa Workforce Development. It is the first time the number of unemployed Iowans has reached 80,000 since September of 1987.
  • Governor Culver told The Des Moines Register this week that he’s reached a compromise with Legislative Democrats over the expansion of organized labor’s collective bargaining powers and now plans to sign the bill. Last year Culver vetoed the bill because it said it would result in significant property tax increases.
  • Republicans offered our plan on transparency last week as an amendment. The plan bill requires the state to create a searchable, consolidated, online database of the state’s budget and spending report, free of charge and open to the public. Democrats defeated it on a party line vote.
  • Rep. Nick Wagner filed HF 604 this week which is a 10% across the board income tax cut for individuals and corporations.