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Editorial: Drastic state personnel cuts are unwise, unnecessary

The Republican strategy of starving government to keep it small, coupled with the recession and an unwillingness to raise revenue, has worked. More than a decade ago, New Hampshire employed 12,000 people to meet the needs of a smaller state population. Today, according to the State Employees’ Association, the state has 10,173 full-time employees. That number will shrink by up to 700 if Senate Republicans refuse to budge on their decision to reject all tax or fee increases and instead force Gov. Maggie Hassan and Health and Human Services Commissioner Nick Toumpas to do the dirty work of balancing the budget with cuts.

The Senate budget, which comes in $300 million below the one crafted by the House, calls for Hassan to reduce personnel costs by $50 million over the next two fiscal years. It requires Toumpas to reduce his budget by $40 million, a sum that could further diminish the department’s ability to meet the needs of people with a disability or mental illness.

“We had to take that personnel cut to make those numbers work,” Sen. Chuck Morse, a Salem Republican and chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, told Monitor State House reporter Ben Leubsdorf.

What Morse meant is that the Senate majority didn’t want to take the time to identify services, programs or jobs it felt the state could do without, nor deal with the suffering and anger the cuts will cause. It wants the governor and Toumpas to do that. Such cuts are a cop-out. They’ve occurred before, and each time meeting the demands of the next big unspecified cut becomes harder.

Hundreds of jobs that were on the books but vacant have been eliminated. In some areas, two people are doing the work of three, that is, as much of it as they can. There are currently 966 vacant positions, but money saved by not filling many of them is already being used to fulfill existing state obligations. The jobs can be eliminated but, since the debt won’t go away, there won’t be any savings.

The Senate majority is acting like a man who, upon seeing someone in need, takes out some chalk, draws a box around his feet, and says, “I’d help, but I can’t get out of this box.” The Senate’s rejection of an increase in the taxes on tobacco and gasoline – a retaliation, we believe, for the House’s rejection of casino gambling – will leave the state short of the money it needs to repair damaged roads and red-listed bridges at a reasonable pace. The reduction in services made necessary by the refusal to raise revenue and cuts to the Health and Human Services budget will make the state the target of more lawsuits.

The Senate budget, to its credit, like the ones crafted by the House and the governor, does restore some of the funding for higher education. An improved state revenue picture provides some of the money to do so. But as for the rest, what some gain, others will lose.

There is a way around, if not out of, the box the Senate created. The budgets of the House and Senate are not all that far apart. The Senate’s projection of state revenue growth for 2014-15, at just 1 percent, is unreasonably conservative. Foreclosures are falling, home prices rising, the stock market soaring and the economy slowly improving. Raise that revenue growth estimate to a more realistic, but still too low, 1.5 percent and the need for the back-of-the-budget cuts goes away. It’s what the committee of conference created to negotiate a budget deal should do.

Legacy Comments12

Here's the solution folks....There are way too many "chiefs" working for the state. You know it, I know it, the average state employee knows it - even the "chiefs" I'm referring to know it. Leave the subordiates as these guys are the ones actually doing all the work and get rid of all those that are just wasting taxpayer dollars. Everyone knows who these people are but no one will do anything about it. SO the issue is not that we need to reduce the number of state employees(which we do) is who is picking those that will be reduced/removed. I'd like to hear from the average state employee to tell us who should go. They know who is just there to collect a paycheck, waiting those last few years for retirement but in all actuality are really doing nothing but maybe running the football pool.

Correct, My Turn and right on the money. Way too many administrators in all depts period. A total audit of all depts would turn up efficiency and waste issues. We know the latest scandals about the IRS lavish spending, and other Federal Depts goes on. Total lack of repect for the taxpayer I would not be surprised if we see that at state levels also.

a continuing resolution to keep going with the existing Responsible Republican Budget that gave NH a SURPLUS would not lay off anyone ....needless to say

I suggest you prove sail wrong Mauser by proving his numbers are fictional. That is how you debate. I am sure he got his numbers from State records, not Glenn Beck.

raise revenue? You mean raise taxes, almost by definition with gov't; that means taking money away form people who worked to earn it. Its so easy to spend someone else's money; isn't it. Doesn't matter that people are out of work, loosing homes at a horrible rate, working families are declaring bankruptcy and the number of homeless is rapidly increasing. What about burdening more people with additional tax will help that? Gov't has no money of its own - produces no revenue - gov't is only in the expense column. A decade ago, computers did not make tasks as easy and efficient as today and you want tax payer to take more hard earned money away from their families to support unions and union leaders like the one in the news just eating and sleeping on the job. When with left understand money isn't free - somebody else had to work for it and taxes do nothing but take that away. We have have shared responsibilities but just adding more taxes unions are losing members is not the answer.

While I can't argue with your basic premise you seem to be targeting the usual "bad Guys". The fact is contrary to popular opinion NH has one of the lowest tax burdens in the country. You are correct about computers and automation as well. However, what about all the jobs that have been eliminated at the State level by computers and then in manufacturing by robotics and automation, what has replaced them. Also when people talk about cutting government jobs, they may want to cut perceived waste but in fact only cut the lowest tier of State payroll. Usually the ones that deal face to face with people in need, not the ones that fill the too many to count conference rooms. Since your union comments were very unclear I want to remind you that less than 11% of the US workforce is unionized, so how are they taking away your money. Lest we all forget, the unions help create the middle class and once were critical to the survival of the American workers. Before you condemn all union members, believe me not all are created equal, a lot of the union protection is strictly in the minds of the uninformed. I almost forgot - "Gov't has no money of its own - produces no revenue - " go back to google, this statement is 100% incorrect, but a popular right-wing talking point.

the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports......drum roll please.......local government workers had the highest union membership rate 41.7%

Yup, your point is? That still accounts for less than 11% of US employment. For a reality check - the average pay for a Social Worker II is around $41K the UNH Hockey coach is around $325K and our Gov's salary is $113K. My point is and was, the one's who bear the brunt of the layoffs are the $20 - $40K employees. Your not making State Gov more efficient, your just keeping the management that is responsible for the waste. As for the SEA Union, they are amongst the weakest union around. Not every union is the Teamsters, or gangsters as I prefer to call them.

when democrats ruled they increased spending 25% and left the Responsible Republicans an almost $1 Billion deficit. Now Haggie proposes a 11% increase in spending. Between that last disaster of democrat rule and today the Responsible Republican crafted a surplus budget with no new taxes....we can all thank God that the Responsible Republicans still offer a frugal common sense alternative to massive tax, spend and regulate democrats

Using the words republican and responsible in the same sentence, I'm surprised you don't burst into flame. Also creative use of fictional numbers from the right wing play book. That would be one strike against God I guess, if it were true. But considering the source. Or as Sail Revere would have cried, The liberals are coming, the liberals are coming. Oh, I'm getting flagged for this one.

cant debate the facts..... democrats always revert to their classic politics of personal destruction.....well played

As soon as I see you refer to the Governor as "Haggie," I stop reading your post. You don't have to like her, but show some respect.

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