Tag: Kim Reynolds

Statement on appointment of new DAS director

IOWA SENATE NEWS
June 20, 2019

Statement from Senate Democratic Leader Janet Petersen on new DAS Director appointment

“The biggest job for Governor Reynolds and Jim Kurtenbach in the coming months is to restore taxpayers’ faith in the Department of Administrative Services.

“In a May 29 letter, I encouraged Governor Reynolds to appoint a new Director with the experience and proven track record necessary to write a new chapter. The Department must establish higher expectations than what we’ve seen over the past several years.

“It’s unclear at this time whether she has accomplished that goal with the appointment of Mr. Kurtenbach.

“The Governor and Mr. Kurtenbach will need to explain to Iowans how his background is suitable for this new job. We have seen numerous problems in recent years – multi-million dollar harassment settlements, hush money payments, understaffing that puts at risk the safety of state workers,  and unfair bargaining tactics, and biased hiring and procurement practices – that need to be addressed, not ignored.

“Mr. Kurtenbach must explain to Iowans what specific plans he has for addressing those problems and ensuring that all state employees and Iowans are safe and treated with dignity, and that tax dollars are not abused.”

###

The May 29 letter from Sen. Petersen to the Governor outlined problems that previous Directors either created or failed to address:• Denied Iowans access to basic public information about the number of harassment complaints in state government and how much taxpayer dollars have been spent to compensate harassment victims.• Taken a restrictive, punitive approach to negotiating contracts with state employees.

• Put the health and safety of state employees and Iowans at risk through dangerous staff reductions, overtime policies, and other employment practices that were previously protected under collective bargaining.

• Mishandled a sweeping scandal at the Iowa Finance Authority (IFA) that included rampant harassment of employees, a failure by IFA staff and DAS staff to address complaints, and pay raises and promotions that were based on cronyism rather than merit.

• Approved secret settlements – described by some as “hush money” – to outgoing state employees.

• Endangered the rights of workers by maintaining a “do-not-hire” list without due process for workers to challenge their inclusion on the list.

• Failed to adequately update and enforce harassment policies in the executive branch.

• Conducted hirings, firings and promotions across state government that appear to be based on political connections rather than qualifications.

Statement on Governor’s explanation of DHS shakeup

Iowa Senate News Release
For Immediate Release:  18 June 2019

Statement from Senate Democratic Leader Janet Petersen
on Governor’s latest statement on departure of DHS Director

“The Governor’s latest statement on the departure of Jerry Foxhoven is as clear as mud.

“If the Governor has been working behind closed doors for nearly six months on a new direction, a new team and a new vision for the Department of Human Services, she needs to back up her rhetoric with positive action. This includes outlining her specific plans to:

  • Fix a privatized Medicaid system that is unsustainable, unaffordable and unaccountable.
  • Reverse course on policies that decimated the state’s successful family planning network, resulting in more unintended pregnancies, more risky births, more teenage mothers.
  • Present a comprehensive plan for adequately funding mental health services for children and adults.
  • Stop dangerous practices and procedures at Glenwood, Eldora and other at state-operated facilities.
  • Rebuild the child protective safety net instead of putting dangerous holes in it.
  • Explain to Iowans why she made the decision to replace Foxhoven (a) when her Administration is in the middle of negotiations with both out-of-state managed care organizations (MCOs) and (b) when hundreds of thousands of Iowans are two weeks away from transitioning to a new MCO.

“Finally, I repeat my call for the Governor to immediately launch a nationwide search for a new Director of the Department of Human Services who is truly committed to watching out for the most vulnerable children and adults in Iowa.

“When then-Director Chuck Palmer resigned in 2017, the Governor posted the opening on the website of the Iowa Department of Administrative Services (https://agency.governmentjobs.com/iowa/job_bulletin.cfm?jobID=1755326&sharedWindow=0) and that should be her first step to take in 2019.”

###

Gov. Reynolds Takes $13 Million from ‘Rainy Day’ Fund to Cover Budget Shortfall

DES MOINES, Iowa — Iowa’s governor has decided not to call lawmakers back into a special session to deal with a shortfall from last year’s budget.

Gov. Kim Reynolds will instead transfer an additional $13 million from state reserves. That’s on top of about $249 million in previous cuts and borrowing from the state reserves.

Reynolds’ budget chief announced Wednesday, a combination of factors led to a lower end of year deficit.

That included higher state collections because workers paid more taxes since many got paid an additional paycheck in June.

Democratic candidate for governor, State Senator Nate Boulton, issued a statement following the announcement of Gov. Reynolds’ plans.

In it Boulton said, “Once again, Iowans are left wondering how Kim Reynolds will balance the budget after she has over extended our state with almost $600 million in annual giveaways to huge corporations. It’s a gamble that isn’t working to increase wages and is ruining state finances. Her previous attempts to fill the holes in our budget have been on the backs of hardworking Iowans, by cutting overtime pay for overtime work, gutting collective bargaining rights, and underfunding our education system.”

Republican Speaker of the House Linda Upmeyer praised Reynolds’ decision in a statement released Wednesday.

“Governor Reynolds’ diligent and thoughtful approach was the right decision.  While others were reactionary, she demonstrated the steady leadership Iowans expect.  House Republicans will continue to fight off unsustainable spending schemes proposed by Democrats and will work with Governor Reynolds to keep Iowa moving forward.”