States may outsource economic development
By Melissa Maynard, Staff Writer
OUTSOURCING DEVELOPMENT: A number of governors are toying with the notion of restructuring or privatizing economic development in their states, as Stateline has previously reported. State senators in Iowa were cautiously optimistic about Governor Terry Branstad's idea, while Governor Scott Walker's proposal was met with more opposition in Wisconsin. Ohio Governor John Kasich, who made privatizing economic development a centerpiece of his campaign, has released additional details on his proposed agency's structure . A recently released report from the nonprofit research organization Good Jobs First casts a critical eye on the proposals, assessing the experiences of states that have experimented with similar approaches.
TURNPIKE TWIST: Ohio politicians have long debated whether the state should follow in the steps of its neighbor, Indiana, and enter into a long-term agreement to lease its turnpike to a private company in return for a large from a large upfront cash payment. The issue didn't play a major role in this year's gubernatorial race because the two candidates appeared to agree that leasing the Ohio Turnpike would be a bad idea — at least in the current market. But Governor John Kasich recently reopened the controversial topic, indicating that he and his advisors are studying the idea. "Everything's on the table," Kasich said, according to PolitiFact Ohio . "You could do a lease of the turnpike."
RELOCATION PAY: An audit from Iowa State Auditor David Vaudt provides a new front for the war over public sector benefits, which many conservatives argue are overly generous and out of whack with the private sector. The audit recommends changes to how the state pays relocation benefits to new, reassigned or promoted employees. The audit found a laundry list of abuses, including a situation in which six Department of Public Safety employees were paid a combined $123,000 to move 22.5 miles or less. "Two of those six moved four miles or less," Vaudt told Radio Iowa . "You're talking an average claim of over $20,000 for those six employees."
UNION LAWSUIT: A number of new governors have signaled their intention to do battle with public sector unions, by scaling back benefits or pay and repealing or dismantling state laws governing collective bargaining. For South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley, however, it is protections for unions in federal law that is stirring controversy. Haley is being sued by private sector unions over comments that she made when announcing her choice to lead the state Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation, according to The Post and Courier . Haley lauded her nominee's union-fighting background and said that it will be helpful in fights against unions, particularly as the state seeks to keep unions out of the Boeing Co. plant in Charleston. "There's no secret I don't like the unions," Haley said when asked about the litigation. "We are a right-to-work state. I will do everything I can to defend the fact we are a right-to-work state."
POSITIONS ELIMINATED?: New York Governor Andrew Cuomo is considering cutting up to 15,000 jobs in the budget proposal he will release in mid-February, according to The New York Times. This would be the largest reduction in the state's workforce in at least 15 years. New York has a projected budget gap of more than $9 billion. In Texas, the draft budget proposal being worked on by legislative leaders eliminatesabout 8,000 state positions. Republicans in Minnesota proposeda 15 percent reduction in the state's workforce this week, a loss of 5,000 jobs.