Governor orders pay cuts at RIO

RIO stands for the Rebuild Iowa Office and everyone in the statehouse pronounces it REE-oh, like the city in South America.  Today, Culver held his weekly news conference and I asked him a basic question: since Iowa already has an emergency management division, why was there a need for a new office to manage the emergency (the floods)?

Culver offered a lobg response, revealing he'd just had lunch with the man he's just appointed executive director of the Rebuild Iowa Office.  Culver also revealed SEVERAL minutes later that he ordered salaries for RIO staff be cut.  "There will be significant changes…and those salaries will be adjusted downward," Culver said.  "So I shared the concern that some of the (legislators) raised about it. We're going to have General Dardis present a revised budget that I think they'll be more comfortable with." (On a few occasions today, Culver said "legislatures" when he meant "legislators.")

You can listen to Culver's entire news conference here.  The mp3 lasts about half an hour; the RIO questions from myself and other reporters come at the 18 minute mark. At the opening of his news conference, Culver offered some details about Iowa's share of the economic stimulus.

Finally, Culver said this today about a gas tax increase: "I think I've tried to be very clear and I'll be talking to leadership again this week about my opposition to raising the gas tax. I know that some discussion has taken place certainly upstairs on this topic. I think that committees are having discussions and may or may not bring it to a vote.  I think it's a whole different matter to bring it to the floor and I think that would be a mistake to do at this time, especially in light of the fact that we just received $358 million for road & bridge projects which is about as much as we spend on an annual basis for bridge and road projects so I think they're going to have a very tough time making the case to average Iowans that, given the recession and given the fact that we just received $358 million for road projects, that we need to raise the gas tax right now."  (The $358 million he references is the estimated tally the State of Iowa will receive from the federal economic stimulus package for road and bridge projects.)

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About O.Kay Henderson

O. Kay Henderson is the news director of Radio Iowa.