Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Fiscal Problems and a Governor's Approach

The following post is a letter to the editor of the Providence Journal that the paper never printed. It outlines in a few words my disgust with the Republican administration's approach to handling a state's fiscal problems. Since the letter was written, over 1100 state employees were forced to retire because of disincentives forced upon the employees by changes to the retirement system. The fiscal deficit skyrocketed following the employees departure. The Governor at present is trying to repeat this feat with further changes to the retirement system.

To the Providence Journal:

I need to take a moment to comment on Governor Carcieri’s latest attempt to solve the states fiscal problems (“Governor’s planned cuts raise concern” Oct. 5, 2007). Let’s step back to look at the big picture. The state’s annual budget is $7 billion. There are 15,000 state employees and as reported in the Providence Journal, each position costs approximately $90,000 for salary and benefits. I’ll be conservative and use $100,000 as the cost for each employee. State employee costs therefore are $1.5 billion annually, or approximately 20% of the state’s budget.

Where is the other $5.5 billion? Mr. “Big Audit” Carcieri continues to target state employees and he continues to demonize them as being the problem. Well, they are a very small part of the problem yet they are always asked to solve the state’s fiscal crisis.

Fact of the matter is privatization practices have been killing the state. Exorbitant contracting costs and contractors watching over contractors are tolerated because it is viewed as “business friendly”. Everyone needs to remember that there are a lot of people getting very rich off of taxpayer dollars but those folks are not state employees.

It’s not about “downsizing” state government, Mr. Carcieri; why don’t you try “rightsizing” state government and find your savings from the $5.5 billion that is left over after paying your state employees?

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