Editorial: State workforce continues to dwindle

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?

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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.