255 layoffs included in Lynch budget

Last modified: Tuesday, February 15, 2011
When Gov. John Lynch lays out his budget today, it will include 255 layoffs of state employees.

Lynch spokesman Colin Manning said the budget will cut 1,100 positions, including 255 that are currently filled.

"This budget rethinks and restructures state government, making hundreds of changes, cutting programs and closing offices so we can redirect resources to higher priorities," Manning said.

The State Employees' Association reported that agency heads were informing workers about layoffs yesterday, in advance of the governor releasing his budget proposal today.

SEA President Diana Lacey said there will be layoffs in the Departments of Transportation and Information Technology. A Department of Revenue employee said the department's customer service department was being let go. SEA spokesman Mike Barwell said there may be layoffs from consolidating labs at the Departments of Environmental Services and Health and Human Services. There will not be layoffs in the Liquor Commission.

The union was receiving reports from employees throughout the day, but specific numbers from departments were not available.

Lacey said it appears specific programs are being targeted, rather than across-the-board cuts.

Several agency spokesmen declined to comment in advance of Lynch's budget address. A Department of Transportation spokesman confirmed the layoffs at that department and said meetings were held yesterday with affected employees.

"Clearly, we're disappointed that we'd be looking to put more people on the unemployment line rather than putting our energies on taking people off the unemployment line," Lacey said. "We will work with the governor and Legislature to be true to their campaign promise that we'll grow jobs not eliminate jobs."

The layoffs will not go into effect until the 2012-2013 budget is implemented July 1. That means employees' jobs could be saved based on changes made by House and Senate budget writers.

Two years ago, Lynch proposed approximately 275 to 300 layoffs statewide. Between 250 and 300 were laid off in fall 2009, though many were rehired to state jobs at lower salaries, Barwell said.

Overall, Manning said Lynch's budget will turn the clock back on spending by more than four years. He said the budget will reduce general fund spending by about 5.5 percent compared with 2008-2009. State spending in the next biennium would be 5.5 percent less than combined general and stimulus fund spending in 2010-2011.

Manning called the budget a "balanced, responsible and sustainable budget" that prioritizes education, health care and public safety.

Almost every part of government will see cuts below 2010-2011 levels, with the exception of public safety agencies and the veterans home. Education adequacy aid will be level funded.

There will be no new taxes or tax increases.

(Shira Schoenberg can be reached at 369-3319 or sschoenberg@cmonitor.com.)