Paterson says "hand is forced," considering layoffs this year

David Paterson in profileAppearing on the Capitol Pressroom today, David Paterson said he's considering state worker layoffs this year:

... what bothers me is, it's gnawing me, I don't think I should be setting up a layoff plan for the next governor to do. I think if you're going to layoffs, you do them yourself. And so I'm really considering altering [the layoff plan for next year] and starting the layoffs sooner... [in] 2010.
We need $250 million in workforce reductions and we have not come close to that. That's why we tried to do the furloughs, the court told us we couldn't do it. That's why we tried to get five days extra lag pay in negotiation, and the workers wouldn't do it. And so I think our hand is forced here.

Paterson said his administration is "still calculating" how many layoffs might be involved -- the number of early retirees would play a role in the number.

I don't want to lay people off ... This is just the unfortunate situation that I turned up in going back to a little over two years ago when I became governor that it's the worst economic times in the state's history and I've had to do things that go against what I have felt in my heart, the same way those Republican senators had to vote against how they feel about the extenders. But what I'm doing and what I think they're doing and other are doing here at the Capitol is we're trying to adjust to a crisis.

If Paterson tries to layoff state workers, the public employee unions will almost certainly sue because of the no-layoffs agreement they have with him.

Also: The state Senate passed a bill today that would institute a "Question Time with the Prime Minister" style session between the governor and the legislature each month. We'd watch that. [TU Cap Con]

Yep, the Capitol Pressroom advertises on AOA. That's where the the governor said it.

file photo via Paterson press images


Has our fearless leader given up his salary yet? Of course not.

Has he considered cutting the legislators' pet projects from the budget? Maybe starting with McDonald's great plan to throw money at NYRA? Nope.

Has he put any thought into the unions' suggestion of hiring the army of consultants as state employees (employee gets paid $25k.yr to do the same job the state pays a consultant $125k)? No.

Patterson is a fool. And most of the legislature is, as well. Come election day, we should remember this.

It makes sense to me, the state workforce is too large for a state with a continuing decline in population. This state needs to streamline services and cut the fat.

@JiminyGuy: The problem with cutting the fat is that, in the past, it has usually resulted in backfilling with more consultants to provide essential services we all rely on. You can shrink the "state workforce" if you like -- and in fact it HAS shrunk -- but don't be fooled into thinking that's the same thing as government efficiency.

@J - The consultants may cost the state more than the salary of a corresponding state worker, but don't think the consultants themselves get paid that _or_ that that salary is the total cost of employing a state worker.

As a consultant to the state, once upon a time (6 years ago) I got paid about the same as the state workers at my same level, +/- $5-8k. There was markup, which raised that cost to the state about another 30%. That markup paid for my health care, retirement, and a small percentage went to the overhead of the people in the back office who supported me. Similarly, a State employee cost the state more than just the salary. Add in benefits and the like, and, I think today you will find it is just about a wash.

The difference? It's really easy to fire a consultant. Not so much with a state employee. Even, for example, if they spend their day doing nothing, reading Facebook, blogging about how much their job sucks, or working their butt off for someone who motivates them.

The original motivations for the state for hiring consultants was that it was cheaper when you factored in the overhead of a state employee and the difficulty in moving them in and out of jobs. It made sense for the State. It still makes sense when you look at how hard it is going to be to lay off state workers. It's going to happen, though it's going to cost us many dollars to fight the lawsuits, win or loose. And, by the way, it's going to cost the state workers many dollars to fight the lawsuits too.

NY has more state workers per capita than any other state as far as I know. That is a problem. The bureaucracy is a problem. For example, the fact that an entire agency is maintained to purchase goods for the other agencies, who are, in turn, not required to purchase things through the purchasing agency and maintain their own purchasing departments strikes me as a bit nuts.

I have a great deal of respect for many State employees. Many work hard. Some do not. Just like the commercial world.

Patterson is in a tough place. There need to be many many cuts in state spending. Payroll is but one of many. Do I want to see my parks closed? No. Do I want to see my friends who work as consultants and as State employees laid off? No. Do I want to see spending cut on programs that are important to me? No. Do I want to pay more in taxes? Nope. But something has got to give. The legislature is playing chicken with the gov, and I think he has indicated, right or wrong, he isn't going to blink.

New York is going to be a very tough place to live for the next 5-10 years no matter what. We are in a financial hole and there is no simple, clean, easy way out.

Let me get this straight. State workers receive a mandatory raise every year, are illegal to furlough, receive a pension, and can't be laid off? Um, sorry to my friends in those jobs, but that's just ridiculous!

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