# Law Enforcement

Layoffs for some, furloughs for others as Culver announces budget cuts

This afternoon Governor Chet Culver announced the next steps toward cutting $565 million from the 2010 budget. I've posted the governor's statement after the jump, and you can find pdf files with more details about the cuts here. (UPDATE: The Des Moines Register posted this chart showing the cuts Culver approved.) Highlights:

Culver is ordering all of the 3,258 non-contract (that is, non-union) employees in the executive branch "to take seven days without pay between now and the end of the fiscal year. I do not believe it is fair for any state employee to not contribute toward our solution."

Culver approved spending cut plans submitted by 28 department heads and approved, with minor changes, spending cut plans submitted by 6 other department heads. The Des Moines Register's Jennifer Jacobs summarized the impact:

Altogether, the 34 approved plans will save the state's general fund about $520 million, he said.

The approved plans call for a total of 180 layoffs and the elimination of 229 open positions. The total job loss, so far, is 410.

Here's where there the layoffs will be: 79 from the Department of Human Services, 35 from the Department of Revenue, 10.8 from the Department of Inspections and Appeals,  13 from the Department of Education, eight from Iowa Public Television, eight from the Department of Public Health, seven from the Department of Economic Development, seven from the Department of Cultural Affairs, four from the Department of Administration, four from the Department of Management, two from the Alcoholic Beverages Division, two from the Department of Veterans Affairs, and one from the Iowa Ethics & Campaign Disclosure Board.

Forty-three state employees tentatively set for layoffs in the Department of Commerce will be spared. The 10 percent across-the-board cut will not be applied to the divisions of banking, credit union, insurance and utilities divisions, which are agencies within the commerce department.

Culver rejected the $45 million spending reduction plans offered by the directors of the Department of Corrections and the Department of Public Safety, saying,

I reject these two plans because I am hopeful that we can find an alternative to laying off hundreds of correctional officers, state troopers and law enforcement personnel.

I am rejecting these plans because public safety is essential to our daily lives.

That is why yesterday I sent a letter to the state's three bargaining units - AFSCME, Iowa United Professionals, and the State Police Officers Council - who represent more than 16,000 state employees - asking them to join me in negotiations for amending their current contract.  This past Saturday, I met with AFSCME's bargaining unit - which represents more than 13,000 state employees - to discuss ideas for moving forward.  We followed that meeting with a three hour session yesterday morning and the talks have been very productive.  And earlier today, I met with the State Police Officers Council representatives and those talks were productive.  Finally, I will meet with the Iowa United Professionals union leadership as soon as schedules permits, but our staff has been in daily contact with their representatives.

I seek substantive discussions with all three unions on issues that may impact our state budget cuts.  Our goal is to do everything we can to prevent layoffs related to essential public safety.

If we cannot reach agreement with the unions, then I will implement the layoff plans submitted by these two departments.

Unfortunately, we do not have an endless amount of time in which to reach an agreement and to have it ratified by each respective union. I expect to know by Friday, November 6 whether we will move forward in discussions with the unions or implement the layoff plans.

The president of AFSCME Council 61 issued a statement saying his union will negotiate with the governor in the hope of avoiding layoffs. Both sides are promising not to release any details about the discussion until the talks conclude, but no doubt some proposed alternatives to layoffs will leak out before then.

The Des Moines Register's Tom Beaumont covered Republican gubernatorial candidates' ideas for cutting the budget here.

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Memo to disgruntled bar owners

Even if you don’t like Iowa’s public smoking ban, even if you think the smoking ban is unconstitutional, even if you have joined a lawsuit challenging the smoking ban, the smoking ban still applies to you.

Larry Duncan, owner of Otis Campbell’s Bar and Grill in West Burlington, learned that lesson today when his business became the first to lose its liquor license for failing to comply with the Iowa Smokefree Air Act. State Senator Tom Courtney hailed today’s action by the Iowa Alcoholic Beverages Division in a statement released by the Iowa Senate Democrats (excerpt):

“This is a great day for restaurant and bar owners in our community who are playing the rules,” said State Senator Tom Courtney of Burlington. “This law protects the health of employees who don’t have a choice when they are forced to work in smoke-filled rooms. The overwhelming majority of employers in the state understand this and have complied with the law.”

The state decision leaves room for the liquor license to be restored sooner if Otis Cambpell’s agrees to the follow the law.

“I think that’s a reasonable compromise,” said Courtney. “It would send the wrong message to law-abiding Iowans if the state ignored a handful of business owners who are thumbing their nose at this new law.”

According to the Des Moines Register, Duncan is challenging the smoking ban in federal court. Other restaurant and bar owners have filed suit in Iowa. I think they are all wasting their money, as courts have upheld other state and local smoking bans, but they have every right to challenge the law. They do not have the right to flout the law in the meantime, though. Last summer a judge denied a request to suspend the smoking ban pending trial.

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