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Yes we can shrink LA govt with little pain, results show

A lot of moaning was heard from advocates of big government, often state legislators, about how the budget reductions forced upon the state for this fiscal year would be so harmful, and how those who were against raising taxes to supply more revenues (at least temporarily) needed to come up with some “plan” to deal with shrinking government. By contrast, with hardly a peep from them comes a refreshing story about how two senior officials in state government didn’t complain, they just did it.

Secretary of Agriculture and Forestry Mike Strain, through hiring freezes and voluntary (but with incentives) retirements, took his department’s work force level down 156 positions in the 19 months he’s been on the elected job, a drop of over 20 percent. Deputy Secretary of Insurance Shirley Bowler (appointed by the top, elected, official in the department) reports using the same strategy they have 62 fewer authorized positions, nearly a 20 percent drop in the past year.

From what they are saying, it appears there won’t be much of an impact on service provision even scaled back in personnel significantly. No doubt in some more specific areas some isolated clients might find fairly reduced service levels, and the general public may have to be more inconvenienced at times, but overall the savings of millions of dollars (even after paying out one-time retirement bonuses) will far exceed what little will be lost in terms of service as a whole.

These stories confirm what has been known about Louisiana government (reiterated recently by Treasurer John Kennedy) – comparatively speaking, it is overstaffed for its population. Too many things are being done too inefficiently or should not be done, and squeezing excess employment out of the system will induce more efficiency and shed the essentially unnecessary tasks to save taxpayer dollars.

So to naysayers about how government needs more money or less reduction in size, these signal it can be done, and can be done across the entirety of state government (matching genuine need to available resources, and using such resources smartly). As we head into another fiscally strained year next year, this reality needs to guide policy-makers’ decision-making.


R G Sanders said...

Someone should send Dr. Strain and Ms. Bowler a thank-you note for being smarter than our Legislature.

Anonymous said...

A good start would be to fire higher ed teachers that don't have enough students to justify their salary - like you.