Worker Compensation is Question in State Budget

Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad speaks during the Health and Human Services Committee panel meeting at the National Governors Association's winter meetings in Washington Sunday, Feb. 26, 2012. ( AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana)

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By Liz Blood

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Gov. Terry Branstad has released his budget proposal, but one key part of the plan remains a question mark.

That's compensation for the roughly 20,000 union represented state workers in Iowa. And the acrimonious tone between Branstad and union officials suggests the current contract talks will not be easily resolved.

Like many other Republican governors, Branstad wants to win concessions from public sector workers, such as requiring them to pay a portion of their health control costs. Union president Danny Homan, of Iowa Council 61 of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, calls this an attempt to weaken the union.

Given that Iowa has emerged from the recent economic downturn in fiscally robust condition, analysts say Branstad's position seems based on conservative ideology, rather than financial need.

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