You may have read or heard that Louisiana state government is spending less of your hard-earned taxpayer dollars because it has fewer employees. That's not true.
It is accurate that we have reduced the number of state jobs over the past 6 years or so by 7%, or about 1.2% a year, mostly by not filling vacancies, but we are spending at least $650 million more on salaries and benefits after the reduction. In other words, we're going backwards.
A February 2012 report by the Legislative Auditor explains why. According to the Auditor, on June 30, 2005, Louisiana state government had 94,733 total positions in the executive branch. We had 83,533 on June 30, 2011. In the past 9 months, however, we have added 4,326 positions for a total of 87,859, according to the April 13, 2012 "warm body" report of the Department of State Civil Service. That's an overall decrease of 7% in a little over 6 years.
But here's the thing. In his report the Auditor also found that over this 6 year period Louisiana taxpayers are spending:
• $397 million more on salaries;
• $47 million more on "other pay" (overtime, incentive pay, shift differential pay); and
• $210 million more on benefits (health insurance and retirement).
That's $650 million additional taxpayer dollars despite the reduction of 6,874 positions. And, according to the Auditor, that doesn't even include the increased spending on "other pay" and benefits for higher education that the Auditor "could not determine" (see page 11 of his report) because higher education has its own separate computer system.
This is unacceptable. The state budget has increased $6 billion since 2005, or 32%, without counting federal "hurricane dollars." We now know one of the reasons why.
Every unnecessary taxpayer dollar state government spends to lead the South in the number of state jobs adjusted for population is a dollar less we have to invest in roads, schools, universities, health care, coastal restoration and small business development. Every dollar we spend on unnecessary labor costs is a dollar less we have to return to taxpayers, through lower taxes, to spend on themselves, their children and their retirement.
Other states do their jobs with fewer employees. If they can do it, Louisiana can too.
Don't take my word for it. Read the Legislative Auditor's report yourself. Go to www.lla.state.la.us
and click on "reports & data."
Louisiana taxpayers deserve better. Louisiana state government can do better.