In my previous posts, I bloviated about the economic emasculation of the state worker in 2009 and the economic lobotomization of same in 2010. To finish this dark, dank and depressing series of posts that have showcased the economic pilfering and narrowminded balancing that is bazooka barfing blood faster than the death of a thousand paper cuts on the backs of about 1.4% of the population (about 47,000 employees), I will be offering a few ideas on how the state (HAH!) can spread the joy of vasectomy/tubal ligation to other parties while at the same time offering a realistic probability on each of them happening.
1} No cost of living raises for managers. This was one of the more popular ideas being thrown out by the rank and file, simply because most managers make about as much money as managers in the private sector. It was a major thorn in a lot of people's sides (mine included) last year when they got raises and we didn't. Even though its a mere drop in the bucket (potential savings about $300K), doing it would show that the state is serious about spreading the pain.
Probability: Actually happened. On 7/20/10, the governor announced that no raises were to be had for managers and executives for 2010. Unfortunately, the state university system acted like the company in Dilbert and gave their managers 7% cost of living raises.
2} Slice off a layer of management. The state is wickedly top heavy with management in all areas and at all levels (for item #1, the amount of managers/executives who didn't get numbered over 2,800). Slicing off a layer would free up money that could be applied elsewhere within a particular agency, but would also show that the state is treating its business like a business.
Probability: Not going to happen unless layoffs hit the rank and file, which could be a possibility in two years once the no layoff proviso expires.
3} No longevity bonuses. Longevity in the public sector is roughly the equivalent of getting a bonus in the private sector. The state pays every employee with at least 10 years of service, a bonus twice a year. The amount varies not only from job to job (for example, mine was $97.50), but also on length as well. Parroting the private sector by eliminating this twice a year bonus could produce a potential savings of about $400K a year.
Probability: Could happen. The current governor is finally showing some backbone (too little too late) with the managers, so it might happen in a few months. Also could happen with a new governor as well.
4} Merge smaller agencies with larger ones. This one is a no brainer as well. We have almost two dozen smaller agencies that are simply sucking up money and are better off being merged with a compatible large agency. A good chunk of these agencies were created back in the 70's, when trying to make all things equal to all people was all the rage. Even though all things are basically equal to all people within state government, these old time agencies are still sucking up money that can be applied elsewhere.
Probability: Could happen. The biggest stumbling block is that almost half of these agencies are politically untouchable (Permanent Commission on the Status of Women, Latino Affairs, African-American Affairs, just to name a few). However, they do need to go, and if a couple of agencies were forced this year to close a hospital, a prison and a adolescent services group home due to budgetary reasons, then those smaller agencies (some with less than 25 people with annual budgets up to $1 million) can close as well.
The big 2 ton elephant in the freight elevator of politics is as we all know, is called LAYOFFS. With the economy still running downhill dumping its shit all over the average worker, you know that this is a very realistic possibility. The no layoff proviso that was negotiated last year (2009) will expire in June 2012. Coincidentally, so will most union contracts.
Do you think that the state ain't gonna play hardball come Spring 2012? To quote GEICO insurance, is Sarah Palin among the top three most hated Republicans out there today?
Prediction: I believe that due to the lack of leadership and foresight that has been shown in this state for the past ten years (people, our credit rating has been downgraded to the point where our bonds are hovering around junk bond status), any economic recovery that the nation will experience in the next two years will totally bypass this state.
What this all adds up to be is this: contrary to popular opinion, working for the state isn't the gravy train ride every thinks it to be. More often than not, when the chips are down and the politicians are forced to make the tough decisions, they don't. Instead, they go about slicing and dicing what they know will please the population without looking at the root causes of their laziness and crass stupidity that caused them to take the weenie way out by laying the burden of their crass stupidity on one particular segment of society without considering all the other segments of society for their special kind of stupidity as well.
I think that tired and overused quote used in Forrest Gump really does apply here: Stupid is as stupid does.