Former Georgia Secretary of State and gubernatorial candidate Karen Handel today called for a permanent reduction in the size of Georgia's state workforce "as one way to address budget shortfalls and focus on the key priorities in providing service to Georgia taxpayers."
"These are structural deficits for the state with revenues being re-set to a 'new,' significantly lower, normal," the candidate said. "We have a responsibility to be honest with the people of Georgia and to begin serious, long-term reductions now in order to ensure future viability.
"Now is most certainly not the time for a tax increase that will only further stifle job creation and burden our citizens. We've got to stop thinking of government as a jobs program and get back to the guiding principle of a limited government that delivers only key services in the most efficient manner possible.
"I permanently downsized the Secretary of State's office by nearly 20% by reducing the workforce, eliminating waste and duplication, and increasing efficiencies. I believe the state, as a whole, can – must - do this as well."
Her proposal would permanently cut at least 10% of state government positions in the 2011 budget year – excluding teachers and public safety officers (State Patrol, GBI, Pardons & Parole, and Corrections). These reductions will yield $404 million in savings, she said.
She is specifically calling for:
Permanent elimination of 10% of state government positions for FY2011 budget year – excluding teachers and public safety officers (State Patrol, GBI, etc.). This would save approximately $404 million and reduce the workforce by approximately 7,800 employees.
Keep permanent the governor's budget savings to date achieved through attrition, resignations, and retirements. According to the State Personnel Administration, this represents nearly 5% of the workforce and equals an additional $190 million in savings.
Require zero-based-budgeting across state agencies. Legislation will not be required in a Handel administration, she said.
Reorganize agencies to reduce management layers and achieve supervisor/employee ratio of 8 or 9 employees to one supervisor. Too often employees are promoted to supervisor or manager positions because of length of service rather than a reflection of management responsibilities, she said.
Launch an intensive effort to identify and eliminate non-essential services and programs, maximize outsourcing opportunities, move to shared-services approach for administrative services such human resources, review and eliminate non-essential boards and commissions, and identify opportunities to consolidate agencies.
Reform state salary and benefits by moving state employees to "paid time off" (or PTO) and limited leave carry-over rather than the current accrual system, which allows employees to "bank" significant amounts of sick, compensatory, and vacation time that is then used to "bridge" to retirement or is cashed-in upon departure/retirement.
Vigorously utilize the line item veto to keep spending in check during the recovery and eliminate unneeded government programs.
She stated, "It is simply irresponsible to talk about teacher furloughs and shorter school weeks before we have made permanent cuts throughout state government. Georgia's children need to be in school more, not less.
"Georgia families and businesses - large and small - have made the tough decisions and downsized to keep their expenditures within their means. The state must now do the same. These are the hard decisions that leaders must make in difficult times."