At this point, few can dispute the mess the State budget and the economy are in. State spending has continued to rocket up, while State revenues continue to slide, projected to fall to 2004 levels. As a result, the gap between income and spending is beginning to look like the Grand Canyon, and Governor Lynch, looks like Evil Knievel, just before he stepped into the rocket, claiming success will be as easy as jumping a car. Unfortunately, we know how Evil’s jump ended up, in the brink. No amount of great planning can save a bad plan. With 55,000 unemployed people in New Hampshire today and most others living with under-employment (making less this year than last), laying off hundreds of State employees is wrong, especially when a better option exists and the Governor is ignoring it.
Reviewing records back to 1993, shows that the State, like all large employers, has a level of employee turnover averaging 8-10% annually. People retire, move out of State, find a better opportunity elsewhere. With 12,000 State employees, about 1,000 per year actually decide for themselves to leave. Assuming that the State employees showed a reasonable amount of flexibility, an Administrative Assistant in Motor Vehicles could become an Administrative Assistant in Fish and Game. A Human Resource employee in Transportation could do the same job in Health Services. (Realistically all HR departments should be merged, but that is another issue) Now there are some cases where job specificity could limit a transfer and hiring from within could be difficult, but that is a rare thing.
Recently the Governor “Waivered” almost 350 new State employees, meaning that the State hired new people, in spite of a commitment to have a hiring freeze. In fact, after almost 3 years of a State hiring freeze, total employment numbers are virtually flat which is a complete slap in the face of all the existing State employees who face layoffs.
Having strong leadership with an eye towards efficiently reducing the size of our State Government, without further lengthening the unemployment line is possible. It just takes less politics and more work.