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IPERS Tries to Ease Concerns About Frozen Assets PDF Print E-mail
Commentary/Politics - Iowa Politics
Written by Lynn Campbell   
Friday, 06 March 2009 14:48
IPERS CEO Donna Mueller

Officials with the Iowa Public Employees Retirement System (IPERS) attempted to ease concerns this week about its $339-million investment with Westridge Capital Management that's been frozen during the investigation of Westridge owners Paul Greenwood and Stephen Walsh for securities fraud.

Donna Mueller, IPERS' chief executive officer, told the legislature's joint Government Oversight Committee that the frozen assets represent just 2 percent of the pension fund that serves about 300,000 current and former employees in state government, cities, counties and school districts.

"We're going to aggressively pursue every last dollar," Mueller said. "We maintain an additional cash balance so that we do not have to unnecessarily cash out investments. We are managing cash so we have a cash reserve to pay monthly benefits. It's only 2 percent, so we have other assets that are available to manage and to pay benefits. A greater concern, almost, is what's happening in the economy and impacting the entire portfolio."

Iowa Courthouses Set to Close Eight Days Between March and June PDF Print E-mail
Commentary/Politics - Iowa Politics
Written by Lynn Campbell   
Friday, 27 February 2009 15:07

Lynn CampbellIowa courthouses will close an additional eight days between now and June 30 if the $3.8-million cut to the judicial system approved Thursday by the Iowa House is also approved by the Senate and signed by the governor, State Court Administrator David Boyd told a panel of lawmakers this week.

That’s twice a month, or once a pay period, Boyd told the legislature’s joint justice-system budget subcommittee. Beginning in March, the courts would close on each day that the state’s 1,600 clerks of court and other judicial employees take a furlough, or unpaid day off, for a savings of $335,000 a day.

Prevailing Wage Debate Dominates House Discussion PDF Print E-mail
Commentary/Politics - Iowa Politics
Written by   
Friday, 20 February 2009 17:15

The Iowa House was expected to approve Friday a controversial bill that would require contractors to pay workers the same hourly wages and benefits on public projects as they would on private-sector projects in the area. But during the vote, the Democratic majority fell one vote short of the 51 votes it needed for passage and left the vote open through the weekend in hopes one of the five Democrats who voted against the bill could be convinced to switch to a "yes" vote.

In what officials called the longest vote in Iowa Statehouse history, House Speaker Pat Murphy at 1:09 p.m. Monday closed the voting machine on the prevailing wage bill after 2 days, 19 hours and 14 minutes, declaring the bill had lost. The vote was 50-48, one vote short of passage. But then House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, D-Des Moines, switched his vote to "no" -- a procedural move that will allow him to bring the bill up for reconsideration later this session. So the final vote stood at 49-49.

Backers said the bill was aimed at helping middle-class families in Iowa.

Federal Stimulus Bill Jump-Starts State Budget Work PDF Print E-mail
Commentary/Politics - Iowa Politics
Written by   
Friday, 13 February 2009 18:04

Approval of the $790-billion economic-stimulus bill in Congress and a signature by President Obama will set the stage for the Iowa legislature to establish its budget targets and determine how much will still need to be cut, Democratic leaders said Thursday.

"We believe it will, in fact, provide some flexibility for state budgets and that will need to be taken into account before we make final judgments on our budget," said Senate Majority Leader Mike Gronstal (D-Council Bluffs). "All of us knew from the start that that was a moving target. None of us made any kind of judgments and now, once we get those numbers from the feds, we can start to make those judgments."

NEW FEATURE! Iowa Capitol Report: Disaster-Relief Bills Signed Into Law PDF Print E-mail
Commentary/Politics - Iowa Politics
Written by   
Friday, 06 February 2009 09:30

chet_culver.jpgIncome guidelines prevented Shannon and Jeff Gardemann from qualifying for assistance from the state's Jumpstart program after the flood destroyed their home in Cedar Rapids, so they're hoping a $56-million disaster-relief bill signed into law this week by Iowa Governor Chet Culver will provide them some much-needed help.

"We basically are paying for two places now. We've got the damaged property in Cedar Rapids, and then the new home," Jeff Gardemann said. "The passing of this bill will help people like us pay help pay down SBA loans and get back on track in life and just get Iowa moving again ... and we're grateful. All we can say is thank you. Appreciate it."

Culver and Lieutenant Governor Patty Judge hailed the unanimous legislative approval of the relief bill, calling it a "bipartisan success story" and "one more step forward to our state's disaster-recovery efforts" as Culver signed the bill into law.

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