Word of the Day – March 5, 2009

Word of the Day
Bodword – An old word for an ominous message
John Brockett’s Glossary of North Country Words, 1825

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 Republicans 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 this week 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.

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 Nine states have since repealed their laws, including Ohio. When Ohio repealed the prevailing wage for school construction, the projects saw a 10 percent reduction in project costs.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

  • The Governor claims that he is not raising taxes and yet his budget will increase property taxes and taxes on Iowa’s businesses. House Republicans will look for alternatives to raising taxes.
  • Instead of ordering an across the board budget cut, House Republicans would rather examine the budget line by line and protect the areas that are successful and eliminate the programs that are failures.
  • As we comb through the details, we will make public our concerns about what we uncover. Republicans look forward to a bipartisan and open discussion with the governor and Democrats.
  • Republicans are skeptical of the governor’s request to borrow more money 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.
  • Republicans believe the Governor and Legislature should accept our 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 a $779 million shortfall. Most of the shortfall was caused by a lack of discipline and a failure of duties with Iowans’ dollars not by Washington or Wall Street or natural disasters.
  • We cannot rely on the federal government to bail us out. It’s time to take responsibility for our share of the financial mess. Republicans will dive into budgets to find savings and bring truth and transparency to state government.

House Republicans offered several key changes to the so-called deappropriations bill last week. They were all defeated on party-line votes.

  1. The first amendment cuts office supplies and equipment purchases by $8 million. Across state government, taxpayers pay for $20 million in office supplies and equipment purchases each year.
  2. Another amendment prohibits the Department of a\Administrative Services from purchasing new state vehicles for the state vehicle fleet for the remainder of FY 2009 and all of FY 2010. The state regularly purchases as many as 600 new vehicles each year.
  3. A third amendment eliminates all open full-time positions in state government that have been unfilled for at least 6 months (exempting correctional officers and stat troopers).
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