All Day Hearing Shows Fight Over Numbers

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DES MOINES, Iowa — Politics and math are at the center of legislative oversight hearings at the Iowa Statehouse Tuesday in what is expected to be an all day and potentially contentious affair.

Democrats assert Republican Governor Terry Branstad has engaged in a pattern of changing government worker classifications and making them political appointees.

“Partisan political hacks”, Oversight Chair Janet Petersen, a Des Moines state senator, called the replacement picks Branstad has put into positions.

Another oversight member, State Senator Matt McCoy, also a Des Moines Democrat, contended Branstad’s changes with personnel and projects with the Department of Administrative Services have cost taxpayers money instead of an overall 15% reduction as he said the Branstad administration claims.

McCoy pointed to a report from the non-partisan Legislative Services Agency that showed D.A.S. overall expenses have gone up 18% in the past two years. That is nearly 2 1/2 times more than those expenses rose in all state agencies.

LSA Director Holly Lyons said D.A.S. overall workforce is down 17% while that workforce is up 2% across state government. However, she pointed out there are more high-paid workers in that department and fewer lower-paid employees.

Oversight member Julian Garrett, a Republican state senator from Indianola, argued the numbers don’t reflect true costs. He said the report doesn’t address cost savings the state has realized through the changes in construction projects.

Lyons said the report doesn’t give “a broad overview” of the total dollars involved, especially as some changes in procedures may not realize full savings until later in the future. “It raises more questions than answers,” she said of the report.