BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) - As Bobby Jindal prepared for his 2008 inauguration as governor, state government workers numbered about 93,500.
Today, that workforce hovers at 62,000 employees - fewer than it’s been in more than two decades. Spending on payroll has decreased by about $1 billion annually.
At the Louisiana State Employees Retirement System, retirees now exceed the number of active employee members - another consequence of the downsizing.
As planning begins for the next budget year, Commissioner of Administration Kristy Nichols tells The Advocate (https://bit.ly/1s9iLPe ) there are no plans for any new major reductions. “Obviously, we will be looking for ongoing efficiencies,” she said.
“We really believe that we have reached a sustainable level of employees,” Nichols said, adding that the workforce is “capable and efficient” across the state.
The shrinking of the state government workforce by one-third stems largely from Jindal’s privatization of many government functions and facilities, most notably in the health care arena.
The biggest hit to state employment ranks - about 7,000 jobs - came as LSU turned over the management of nine of its 10 charity hospitals to private managers, a process that wrapped up during the last budget year.
The privatization push - part of Jindal’s political agenda - started early on, and the pace picked up in his second term in office.
Reorganization of department operations has eliminated many jobs during the Jindal years, as did consolidation of agency procurement and information technology operations within the governor’s management arm, the Division of Administration.
For instance, the Office of Motor Vehicles has fewer staffers to help with driver’s licenses, renewals and the like. The Department of Children and Family Services has lost many of its employees in local communities.
During Jindal’s tenure, the number of classified employees has decreased by 34 percent, down nearly 22,000. The unclassified ranks decreased by 21 percent, or about 8,000.
The average salary of classified workers is about $20,000 a year less than those who are unclassified and whose ranks include the heads of state agencies and college professors.
Information from: The Advocate, https://theadvocate.com
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