Are you aware of the untold story of state government?
We often hear of the actions of the governor and legislative branch – as they are responsible for crafting our laws and are directly beholden to the voters every few years.
But there is a whole lot more to the story about our state government. It is about more than just one governor, 50 senators or 100 representatives.
It is about the undue influence that is being exerted on our state’s direction by unelected government union bosses and activist administrative bureaucrats.
It is this untold story that is leaving Iowans increasingly frustrated.
Iowans are already keenly aware of the significant ramifications of the decisions made by our Supreme Court, but sometimes the decisions made by administrative bureaucrats and government union bosses can have just as big of an impact.
As Senate Republicans have traveled the state hearing from Iowans on our “Re-Open Iowa for Business” rules and regulations tour and have listened to our constituents back home, one common theme has emerged: too many decisions are being made by those who have no accountability to the people that must abide by their directives.
For the past several years, employers – both small and large, entrepreneurs, farmers, city administrators and taxpayers have increasingly become subjected to overly burdensome rules and regulations that have been promulgated by activist government bureaucrats who are not directly beholden to the people who pay their salaries and benefits: the taxpayers of Iowa.
Oftentimes, these rules and regulations are put in place by activist political appointees. During the last 12 years, many of these activists have imposed rules that are at odds with the intent of the legislation. This has caused onerous and burdensome barriers that are squelching job creation and fostering an uncompetitive economic environment.
As a result, two-thirds of our counties lost population in the last decade, 222 factories closed their doors in 2009 alone and we are near the bottom in friendliness to job creators according to US News & World Report and the Small Business Survival Index.
While Senate Republicans are beginning to work to reverse this damaging trend and bring about a cultural change in these state agencies, the same problems also apparent with our immensely powerful government unions.
Year after year, our government unions continue to demand healthy increases in pay and lucrative benefit packages for government employees even as private sector employees continue to face layoffs, hour and benefit reductions and salary freezes or cuts.
In fact, the Des Moines Sunday Register, just days ago, ran a front page story on the fact that real wages for Iowans are actually on the decline.
As one of his last acts in office, Governor Culver accepted a union boss negotiated contract that added hundreds of millions in new salary increases and benefits that become added costs to state government – thus further exacerbating the fiscal hole he and his legislative allies dug for the state and its taxpayers during the last four years.
But it is not just Iowa where balance needs to be restored in public and private employment and our collective bargaining system – many other states like Wisconsin, Indiana, Ohio and New Jersey are beginning to take steps to correct the inequities, give more power back to the elected officials (and away from the unelected union bosses), and therefore put the state back on a fiscal path that is more sustainable for the long term.
As Governor Branstad and the Legislature works to finish the budget in the coming weeks and debate important policy changes, keep in mind that it is not just your elected officials that are making decisions that have significant impact – it is the unelected and often unaccountable that are just as responsible.
In the weeks and months ahead, Senate Republicans look forward to telling this often untold story of state government.
We believe it is a story that every Iowan needs to hear and understand.
State Senator Paul McKinley (R-Chariton) is the Iowa Senate Minority Leader