The Governor is now talking about layoffs. I suppose Pioneer is responsible for starting the discussion about headcount growth a year ago, when we suggested that the data is telling us that state government grew from 2004 to then by about 7500 positions. We said it in October 2008, January 2009 and then again in June 2009.
Our view is that the addition of 1,100 safety net program positions during that period should be maintained but that an equivalent of the 6,400 new hires are not sustainable in the face of thousands of local layoffs and over a billion-dollar-plus structural deficit. That’s been the mantra over and over.
Over the past five months or so we’ve been asking the state’s Human resource Division for updated data on layoffs, to see if cuts were occurring, and if so cuts to what. We cut them a check with a Freedom of Information Act request. We still waited. It finally came out a week or so ago, and only because the Governor Patrick directly instructed an aide to provide the data to the Associated Press (which had a similar request in). Note to Guv: Thank you. Not to Guv’s staff: A little more transparency is welcome.
Layoffs are always hard. But they are needed in this crisis. And the unfortunate news seems to be that the opposite of our recommendation has occurred. That is, the administration made most of its 912 job cuts in safety net programs (SNP). (We will look to confirm or correct the numbers we have with additional state reports in the coming months, just to make sure).
Between January 2007 and September 30, 2009, almost 75% of cuts have been made to SNPs, where I am defining Mental Health, Social Services, Public Safety, Developmental Services, the Blind, Transitional Assistance, Health and Human Services, Soldiers’ Home (Massachusetts and Holyoke), Elder Affairs, Disabled Persons Protection, Youth Services, Disability, and Developmental Disabilities as core SNP programs. You can access a spreadsheet for the 2007-2009 cuts here with department-level data on where they occurred.
Now 2005 and 2006 were not dislocating in the way the current crisis is. That said, Romney seems to have done a pretty good job at not impacting SNPs inordinately. In fact, Mental Health, Public Health and Mental Retardation are the only “safety net programs” (SNPs) affected by Romney cuts in the last two years of his term. The impact is a reverse mirror image of what has happened in the last few years. Again, you can link here for a spreadsheet of 2005-2006 cuts.
Just. Not. Smart.