Governor says her government reorg bill is about efficiency, not about creating a ‘fiefdom’

DES MOINES — Two of Governor Kim Reynolds’ priorities for the 2023 Iowa legislature have already become law, but her plan to streamline state government remains under review.

Reynolds says Iowa is way out of line with surrounding states.  “When we’re spending $2100 more on a per capita basis than Illinois…our neighboring state who’s not really known for being fiscally responsible, a state that’s four times the State of Iowa, then we’re not providing efficient and effective services,” Reynolds says.

Reynolds has submitted a bill that’s nearly 16-hundred pages long to outline her plan to shrink the number of state agencies from 37 to 16. Critics of some of the proposals in the bill say Reynolds is trying to centralize more power in the governor’s office.  “This isn’t about building a fiefdom for Kim Reynolds. This about reducing the size of government, which we should all be about,” Reynolds says. “It’s about bringing technologies and efficiencies and collaboration and coordination.”

Reynolds says no staff will be laid off if her plan to approved as is, but more than 500 full time positions in state government that aren’t currently filled would be eliminated — saving about 200 million dollars over the next four years. Lawmakers have begun holding subcommittee hearings on sections of the plan.

One area that’s being scrutinized would make it clear in state law that the attorney general may file criminal charges on behalf of the state even if a county attorney does not ask the attorney general’s office to pursue the case. Kelly Meyers, a lobbyist for the Iowa County Attorneys Association, says the group is asking for that passage to be removed from the bill. “Because county attorneys are elected officials,” Meyers says. “They answer to their voters and their constituents.”

It was the policy of long time Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller to provide state lawyers to prosecute criminal cases when county attorneys made a request and the county attorneys association says that policy should remain intact. Republican Brenna Bird defeated Miller. She has said one of her priorities as Iowa attorney general is to hire more prosecutors.