Republican Lawmakers Offer Taxpayers An Alternative To Corzine’s Tax Hikes
Ken Adams has put together an excellent analysis of the staggering growth in workers employed by the State of New Jersey. His analysis shows that since Democrats gained control of the Governor’s seat, starting with the election of Jim McGreevey, the number of state employees has increased 26%. This increase has far out-paced the state’s population growth and has occurred despite the hundreds of millions the state has spent for technology.
Clearly, state government is becoming less productive and more costly every year. The Governor’s budget plan does nothing to address this problem that leads directly to Corzine’s estimate that “even with the sales tax increase, the state will have to close a gap of at least $2 billion next year". As Paul from NJ Fiscal Folly points out, these budget gaps and the need for ever higher taxes will continue forever unless action is taken now to curb the cost of the state’s payroll.
Assembly Republicans have proposed $2.2 billion in reductions to Corzine’s budget that, if adopted, will help stop the never ending cycle of budget gaps and tax increases. The following are just a small sample of reductions Republicans have proposed, but demonstrate Corzine’s failure to take a serious approach to controlling state spending.
Republicans recommend saving $71 million by reducing the number of political appointees on the state’s payroll:
A 2/3 reduction in the 1,300 nonessential, non-unionized personnel in the following titles would produce a salary savings of slightly more than $61,000,000. It would also save the health care, pension, and prescription costs associated with the reduction of 850 employees for an additional savings exceeding $10 million for a total savings of at least $71,000,000.Republicans recommend reducing state employee overtime by 7% for a savings of $15 million. From the description provided this is a very modest proposal. It also demonstrates Jon Corzine’s failure to take a business approach to the budget. Would any chief executive officer facing bankruptcy approve a budget with overtime pay exceeding $210 million, $10 million more than the previous year? No, a business executive would require productivity improvements and cut overtime requirements to the bone.
Titles: State Supervising Photographer, Government Representative, Confidential Aide, Aide to the Governor, Senior Executive Service, Legislative Liaison, Confidential Secretary, Confidential Assistant, and Administrative Assistant.
Overtime for each of the past three years has averaged in excess of $200 million, with the FY 2006 figure exceeding $210 million. The Departments needs to re-evaluate their decisions regarding staffing and overtime.Investment in technology should lead to greater productivity and a corresponding reduction in employees. With the exception of the period when Christie Whitman was Governor and Republicans controlled New Jersey’s legislature, the number of state employees has soared, despite hundreds of millions spent by the New Jersey Office of Information Technology. Assembly Republicans are calling for productivity improvements and a reform the Office of Information Technology to save $20,000,000.
For example, the Department of Human Services estimates that it will incur overtime costs of $70 million to cover 2.7 million hours of overtime. The overtime estimate is based on FY 2006 overtime expenditures/hours worked at these facilities. This amount of overtime equates to 112,500 days or 308 years of overtime. Assuming a work year equals 5 days per each of 52 weeks, minus 15 vacation days and 13 state holidays (no sick time) this amount of overtime equates to 484 years.
Weak managerial oversight has led to the individual departments establishing their own technology offices. Spending can be reduced through the elimination of the duplicative services.The above are a small sample of cost reductions Republicans have proposed to rein in spending and place the state on a path to fiscal responsibility. While Corzine is threatening taxpayers and demanding tax increases, Republicans are working to reduce costs. The Governor continues to set the example for government waste and unproductive use of time on the state’s payroll. Yes, we know Corzine is only taking $1 per year in salary, but even at that he’s being overpaid based upon his performance.