Terry Branstad joined the Tea Party with his reelection. It is apparent that his relentless effort to scale back government has a hidden agenda—not to keep public spending under control, but to move state dollars from the pockets of state workers to big business.
A recent Des Moines Editorial, “Corporate Welfare Run Amok,” cited a litany of egregious examples of state tax giveaways to companies worth hundreds of millions of dollars. 186 Iowa companies received Research Activities Credits totaling over $42 million in 2015.
“The vast majority of this money isn’t going to small start-ups but to larger, highly profitable companies that already spend millions on research as a cost of doing business,” the editorial stated.
The top three: Rockwell Collins who reported $686 million in profits, Deere & Co which posted $1.9 billion in profits and DuPont who claimed $2 billion in profits. Kraft Heinz received $4.74 million as a reward for eliminating 475 out of its 1,400 workers at a bologna plant in Davenport. Gosh, now Terry is funding big business to cut jobs too!
So how does Branstad justify lining the pockets of big business? By cutting back on public spending elsewhere and, you guessed it, by reducing the state workforce.
We continue to read headlines about cutbacks in higher education (while tuitions increase), mental health facilities and programs, nursing home oversight, DOT, etc.
In the most recent and, perhaps what may be the most egregious case, Branstad has privatized Medicaid administration, replacing state workers with the three private companies who must add 15% to their costs and, obviously, to make ends meet, cut back services to providers and poor Iowans who depend on Medicaid.
And, to make it crystal clear about Branstad’s mission, he has joined Republican governors in 20 other states to challenge a U.S. Department of Labor rule requiring that workers must be paid time-and-a-half for overtime with earnings up to $47,476/year—double the previous threshold. He alleges the rule would cost Iowa government and universities $19 million each year. This rule requires that middle class workers be paid for longer hours that increase productivity and profits at a wage level increased from $12/hour to $23/hour.
Branstad is even ignoring his own party whose platform calls for “curbing corporate welfare.” As the legislature convenes in January you can count on Branstad to argue that more cuts in Iowa State workers must continue to justify the overtime paid to those remaining. You can also count on the fact that he will give away far more state tax funds and credits to big business than overtime workers are costing state government.
by Tim Urban
Photo via Gage Skidmore