Protesters Interrupt Governor’s Jobs Talk in Iowa City
IOWA CITY, Iowa - The heat picked up a bit as Iowa Governor Terry Branstad and Lieutenant Governor Kim Reynolds brought their “Jobs for Iowa” tour to Iowa City.
The stops the governor and lieutenant governor have made to promote job growth in the last few weeks played to mostly favorable crowds. But that situation changed a bit as the two ventured to the Iowa City Chamber of Commerce for a Thursday morning talk.
A handful of protesters walked outside the chamber office carrying signs opposed to Branstad’s efforts to change collective bargaining rules and cut tax rates for corporations in Iowa. The protesters went inside the meeting with the governor and lieutenant governor as well and argued with the two state leaders at times.
The governor has told crowds during the “jobs” tour that taking some items off the collective bargaining table for unionized state workers is simply leveling the playing field. Branstad pointed out that 87% of state employees pay nothing for health insurance. But those opposing the changes didn’t let the governor’s remarks go unchallenged.
When one shouted out an accusation the governor was attacking workers, Branstad replied “…I will tell you this, I’m not afraid to take the criticism, the abuse even the name calling if you want to do it.”
Then someone in the back of the room shouted “you’re not going to get laid off until 2012.” The governor answered back “listen, I gave up a job that paid more than twice as much as governor because…” And the same person interrupted again “the private sector pays more than the public sector, correct?”
As that point, a discussion moderator asked for a more civil tone from the audience.
After the meeting, Governor Branstad said most people who’ve come to the sessions are interested in his message of improving job growth.
“I’m very encouraged about the turnout and the interest we’re getting. There are some people who come to disrupt, but part of being a leader is being able to take the heat and I appreciate that,” Branstad said.
One protester, Katie Hargrave, said those opposed to legislative whittling away of collective bargaining rights will keep up the heat. “Particularly because of what’s happening on the national level with collective bargaining it’s criminal he wouldn’t address those issues,” Hargrave said.
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