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Editorial: State workforce continues to dwindle

Last Modified: Wednesday, July 24, 2013 6:56 PM

Louisiana’s state workforce continued to dwindle last year.

More than 3,800 classified employees left the state rolls during the 2012-2013 fiscal year, according to the Louisiana Department of State Civil Services. Nearly 60 percent of those employees lost their jobs or elected to retire as five public hospitals in Lake Charles, New Orleans, Baton Rouge, Lafayette and Houma were taken over by private hospitals.

Privatization of previously state-run facilities for the developmentally disabled in Bossier City and Hammond and a mental health facility in Mandeville accounted for another 1,000 employees leaving the state rolls.

Those numbers, however, are deceiving because many of those affected, according to Gov. Bobby Jindal’s administration, have been rehired by the private entities now running the hospitals.

According to the Jindal administration, 571 hospital employees who elected not to retire were not hired by the hospitals.

‘‘There were also a significant number of people who were eligible to and did retire,’’ the governor said in a news release. ‘‘The hiring process at these partner hospitals is ongoing, so the number of former state employees hired by them may continue to grow.’’

The governor acknowledged that the workforce cuts are part of an overall philosophy to reduce state ‘‘government’s footprint.’’

Through attrition, layoffs and retirement — and many positions left unfilled — the state’s workforce has fallen by nearly 28,000 since Jindal first took office in 2008, when state employment roles topped 100,000. Nearly 20,000 of those jobs are classified as Civil Service.

‘‘In addition to shrinking the size and cost of state government,’’ Jindal said, ‘‘we are making government more effective and efficient by consolidating functions and applying smarter technologies that save taxpayer dollars.’’

Such cuts were inevitable in a state workforce that was long considered bloated. But it should also be noted that many of the state employees that remain have not had a raise in six years.

If many of them are doing more because there are fewer of them, shouldn’t they be receiving more compensation?

• • •

This editorial was written by a member of the American Press Editorial Board. Its content reflects the collaborative opinion of the Board, whose members include Bobby Dower, Jim Beam, Crystal Stevenson and Donna Price.

Posted By: Kyle On: 7/25/2013

Title: Look beneath the surface...

The reason why state workers are not receiving more compensation though there are fewer is that these "classified" positions that are being eliminated are being replaced with "unclassified" positions. With classified positions, it is very strict as to what a classified employee can be paid, which is usually well below private sector salaries for the similar job duties. However, with unclassified positions, the agency/state is given carte blanche to pay the unclassified person whatever they want, no holds barred. Just look at the number of unclassified positions -- and the salaries associated with them-- that now exist at the state department of education after years of layoffs.

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