Letter to the Editor

Promises made. Promises broken!

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Governor Reynolds and the GOP said they would protect and not touch 411/IPERS.

2016: Governor Reynolds said making changes to IPERS was one of her top priorities and IPERS was not sustainable.

2017: Governor Reynolds comment: "As a defined benefit plan (pension) IPERS is secure, strong, and sustainable."

Which is it, governor?

2017: Collective Bargaining is gutted by GOP. They never talked about CB in 2016 campaign.

2017: July of 2017, Governor Reynolds appoints GOP Sen. Charles Schneider, Iowa’s ALEC state leader, to study IPERS. He hires the Koch Brothers funded Reason Foundation who are anti-pension.

June 2018: Governor Reynolds said, “as we look at doing a hybrid or different options. ...”

2018: Iowa’s GOP twice invites out of state think tanks (Reason Foundation) to testify against IPERS.

2018: Late fall: A spokesperson of Governor Reynolds says “the governor has no intention of changing IPERS for any participant current or future.”

2018-19: GOP Rep. Bobby Kaufmann, chair of the Iowa House State Government Committee: “There will be zero IPERS bills, period. No tweaks, no adjustments. I’m not even entertaining changing punctuation, let alone policy.”

GOP Speaker Linda Upmeyer: “There are no secret plans to change IPERS for current employees or new hires."

Governor Reynolds: “To those state and local government employees who care deeply about this issue, let me be crystal clear; under my watch your IPERS is safe. It will not change, it will be protected, ... Period.”

Governor Reynolds took a $50,000 campaign contribution from Public Pension Enemy Rex Sinquefield of Missouri.

2019: SF 634 passes and redirects 411/IPERS pension payments from the Supplemental Trust and Agency Levy into the General Fund Levy.

IPERS members were told by GOP legislators, that IPERS would be taken out.

Gerry Roland's analysis of SF 634:

"... Code of Iowa Section 384 states that a city's tax levy for the general fund shall not exceed $8.10 per thousand of taxable value, except for the 21 specific taxes listed in 384.12. Those taxes fund such things as bridges, library services, civic centers, vocal groups, and orchestras. SF 634 creates a new Frankenstein monster of a budget category that triggers onerous new steps in the budget process if there is more than a 2% increase from the previous year.

This is where the malice baked into this legislation rears its ugly head. 8 of the 21 items that are excluded from the $8.10 cap for the general fund get pulled into the 2% trigger. Why those eight? By what logic are they included in the 2% trigger and not the $8.10 cap for general fund property taxes? Surely, the point is to pressure cities into reducing or eliminating funding.

One way to appreciate the harmful intent toward pensions is to look at which funds were put in and left out of the 2% trigger. Section 384 lists four funds that are kept separate from the general fund: trust and agency (mainly pensions, including IPERS and 411), emergency, debt service, and capital improvements. These funds are outside the $8.10 general fund property tax cap. Trust and agency and emergency are included in the 2% Frankenstein trigger. Not included are capital improvements and debt service. So, why are pensions and the emergency fund singled out to be included in the 2% general fund trigger? One probable motive is to trigger additional scrutiny and put those funds in a negative light.”

State Treasurer Michael Fitzgerald:

“First, I think this is a bad bill. I believe in letting local governments control their budgets. Local government officials know what they need to best serve their communities. One potential outcome of this bill could be to put pension funds in competition with other budget priorities. For example, funds used to pay employee pension benefits for firefighters, police, and other valuable public servants should not be pitted against funds to repair roads.

Surely there was a better way to bring transparency to public budgeting. Governor Reynolds, you promised to protect IPERS. This bill does the opposite.”

— John Brostad, Storm Lake