Governor Culver discusses spending cuts

Iowa Governor Chet Culver announced on Tuesday a plan to cut state spending by $341 million in one year, and $1.7 billion over five years.

A consultant was hired to make a statewide review on how to save taxpayer money. Over 90 recommendations were made...including consolidating state facilities and programs and selling surplus state properties.Below is a full transcript of KTVO's Wednesday interview with Iowa Governor Chet Culver.

KTVO: In discussing the 90 proposals from the consultant, which do you find most essential?

GOVERNOR CULVER: "Well I think the opportunity to buy goods and services on a master contract, the idea of leveraging the pool to buy goods. Right now we TMre doing some of that, but we have a huge opportunity to broaden that pool. It TMs a shame that on a given day, one agency will purchase a computer for one price and another will pay more. We need to end that practice and make government more efficient in doing so. The other area of real opportunity is consolidation of Information Technology Services.

"To think that we have 223 data centers throughout state government really highlights how much opportunity there is to streamline and reduce the number of these data centers and obviously in doing so will significantly reduce cost and save taxpayer money. So those are just two of the 90 examples and I really feel good about this efficiency review. It TMs timely and I TMm going to do everything I can to make government lean and efficient, especially during these very challenging economic times.

KTVO: Have you received feedback from lawmakers in the last 24 hours about these proposals?

GOVERNOR CULVER: Yes, it TMs been very positive overall. And this should not be a partisan issue. In fact, in the last legislative session Republican leaders put forth a number of good ideas related to efficiency. We TMve incorporated some of those. More recently, two Democratic legislators have convened an Interim Study Commission looking at efficiencies. We TMve also streamed some good ideas from that process and from their good work.

This is really about Iowa taxpayers and our constituents who will benefit in two ways. One: in saving their taxpayer money. And two: more efficiently delivering government services. So I hope we can find some real bi-partisan consensus on as many as 90 of these ideas as we move forward.

KTVO: There are those who cite that spending is out of control, and some may express doubt about the consultant's proposals. What would you say to your critics?

GOVERNOR CULVER: Well this is not a spending problem. We TMre dealing with a worldwide recession unlike any we TMve seen since the Great Depression. 48 states in America are dealing with budget shortfalls. Every business large and small in this country is dealing with, in almost every case, revenue challenges and budget challenges. So we TMre doing the very best we can, dealing with an economic storm that has hit our state. And I am proud of the fact that throughout this challenge, we TMve maintained our Triple-A bond rating. There are only seven states in the United States that still have a Triple-A and Iowa is one of them. And we TMve done that because we TMve made some really tough decisions, we TMve made some really tough cuts.

"We TMve had to lay off too many state employees. But we TMve also worked to save jobs by doing things like taking unpaid days without leave and reducing|I started at the top. I cut my own pay. I asked every department director to cut their pay. Every employee in the Executive Branch of state government is taking a pay cut, 20,000 people. So we TMve all shared in this sacrifice and now it TMs time to go one step further and I think this efficiency review is a great way to further reduce expenditures, but at the same time deliver vital services to Iowans who are depending on them.

KTVO: How would you view Fiscal 2010 and 2011, and what else can you tell our viewers about spending cuts to come?

GOVERNOR CULVER: Well I would certainly urge your viewers to participate in this efficiency review process, to talk to their local legislators, to encourage them to move forward on these recommendations so that we can find savings immediately.

"Change is hard in government and so there will be some pretty powerful interests that we are up against to not move forward on these changes. We TMre going to need the people of this state to rise up and demand that we make government as lean and efficient as possible and that TMs exactly what I TMm doing in this report. I TMm outlining opportunities to find taxpayer money, but I TMm going to need the people of Iowa to get behind this idea. So I urge your viewers to contact their local legislators and help us move forward on many of these recommendations in this report.