Saturday, February 9, 2008

Bobby Jindal and Angele Davis Have Got Your Back!

I'll have more to say when I'm able to calm down about this.

Division of Administration Commissioner releases information on hiring freeze
For Release On: February 04, 2008

Baton Rouge – Commissioner of Administration Angele Davis today released a first report of information pertaining to the limited state government hiring freeze, enacted by Gov. Bobby Jindal by executive order on January 15, his first full day in office.

The executive order authorized Commissioner Davis to grant hiring exemptions “on a case by case basis or by category,” and on January 17 the commissioner issued to state departments and agencies implementation guidelines for the exemption request process, consisting of a full, written, 10-point justification for the request, along with a notification that “only critical positions will be approved.”

Information relevant to Executive Order BJ 2008-03, “Limited Hiring Freeze”

Vacant positions in state government, as of December 2007: 4,089
Position exemption requests received, as of today: 488
Position exemptions approved: 140
Positions requested that were not approved: 87
Position exemption requests under review by Office of Planning and Budget: 261

Significant components of the reported numbers

53 of the position exemptions approved are for temporary, seasonal tax-related positions at the Department of Revenue.
52 of the position exemptions approved are for security and public safety personnel at the Department of Corrections (46 Correctional Security Officers, 6 Probation and Parole Officers).
180 position exemption requests are from the Department of Veterans Affairs, 175 of which are still under review.
46 position exemption requests, all still under review, are from the Department of Culture, Recreation and Tourism

Commissioner Davis released the following statement along with today’s report:

“This initial report shows that the hiring freeze is working and that we have successfully begun to execute Gov. Jindal’s order to limit the growth in government positions and to reach the goal of saving taxpayers at least $25 million. It also shows that the process for approving only critical positions, while subject to meticulous scrutiny, is working efficiently and effectively. To me, perhaps the most important item in this initial report is the number of requests compared to total number of vacancies, in that, as a result of great cooperation from Gov. Jindal's cabinet secretaries, the very existence of the hiring freeze appears to have restrained even the attempt to fill positions.

“And it’s crucial to understand the context of this hiring freeze and why it’s important. To start, even if you discount hurricane-related federal funding, between 2001 and 2008, Louisiana government expenditures increased by $4 billion or 42 percent. Last year alone, the state authorized 1,771 new jobs. We must begin to get a handle on this type of growth, and we can begin with these 4,089 vacancies, all of which I view as potential opportunities to begin saving money.

“While much attention is given to the state’s current surplus and excess revenue, not enough concern, in my view, is given to the fact that just a few years from now our state budget is projected to be in the red by an estimated $1.4 billion. We must not wait to begin preparing for a potentially worse financial picture ahead of us.

“A state hiring freeze, of course, is not the complete answer to this problem. It is a beginning of a much needed and continuing effort at fiscal reform. And the purpose of fiscal reform is to say that if government must spend tax dollars on certain projects and programs, it has an obligation to demonstrate to the taxpayer that they’re needed, achieving desired results, and being pursued with the least amount of money possible. But fiscal reform must also be applied to the bureaucracy itself. As with projects and programs, government should not be hiring people to fill vacant positions just because those vacancies exist and because filling them is just the way ‘it’s always been done.’ It should fill vacancies because those jobs are necessary to achieve desired results.

“Government that grows too big can prove cumbersome to the very people it’s supposed to serve, but it also poses a threat to the state’s economy because it saps resources from private citizens who instinctively know how to direct it more efficiently. To government workers and taxpayers alike, I offer the same assurance: excellent public service and taxpayer accountability are not mutually exclusive activities. In fact, the former is more often achieved by adhering to the latter.”

Additional Contact Information:

Contact Name Contact Phone Contact Email Contact Fax
Michael DiResto 225-342-7158 225-342-1057 _On_Hiring_Freeze.doc

My favorite paragraph of the the release is the rationale at the end: This is for your own good, State. Notice there's no discussion of saving money by creating a more competitive bidding process for state contracts or creating more transparency in that process.

Because I am able to comment with authority here only about the impact on higher education, that's not to say that I don't believe that many other state institutions are losing applicants (state health care support staff, included) to private institutions.

But here's anecdotal evidence from one department in the state university that I'm most familiar with: for several years since Katrina, there has been a critical need for a professor in a core subject area. Post-Katrina freezes and budget cuts prevented the position from being filled. Once funds were available because of a much-needed injection of state funding, the position was advertised. The university sent department administrators to the annual meetng of the most respected professional organization in the field to interview and shortlist nationally competitive candidates. Five candidates were brought to the university for an extensive interview process. When the hiring freeze took effect without warning, and these candidates were notified that the decision did not rest with the university itself but pended the approval of Angele Davis, all applicants moved on. The university hiring window that opens narrowly in the winter/spring cannot be gambled away by educators in need of employment.

The press release does not indicate what "desired results" are when it comes to positions that might be eligible for exemption from the hiring freeze. But if we assume that desired results are in keeping with the Republican strategy of the past couple decades, there is a blatant agenda to financially cripple state university and college budgets, not to avoid a deficit, but to erode the idea that "government" can compete with any sort of private enterprise. I think of the frequent comment of comedian Bill Maher, whom I often agree with: "The republicans run on the ticket that government doesn't work. Then they f--k it up and say, 'See?'

In the current situation, I guess if we want quality, we'd better look to the private sector? And I don't think that the 8 or so bucks we might save on our state taxes as a result of the $25 million savings is going to provide us as individuals with the extra cash to look there. I know it won't in terms of private vs. public tuition. But I guess it's true that you get what you pay for.


PZ said...

This is absolutely disgusting and so disrespectful to everyone. Private citizens "instinctively" know better how to spend money than public sector people ... as if I change who I am depending on my job, not my expertise ... !!!

A.F. said...

Thanks for the support, PZ, and the link. I agree. As "private citizens" when we need something our state government or a state employee is supposed to be providing, we can rely on some instinct what? If we need somebody to check us or our relatives in at a state-run hospital, for instance, we can just run out and hire somebody ourselves? Or if we need a professor in our state universities, we can just...hire tutors instead?? Makes no sense.

bdogg said...

This centralized micro-managing harbors the moral authority of fascism and the efficiency of communism. Jin-“dull” has created a bureaucracy to judge the merits of bureaucracy! At the job position level, how will his appointed turtle-soup brained minions better determine if its worth the money than the local administrator? “Boobie”seems to federalist big government pumpkin-head of the 1st order.

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