Russell: Layoff of 8,700 Public Employees Can Be Averted

April 8, 2009

“I am very aware of the magnitude of this economic recession and its impact on the state budget and that cost cutting measures must be implemented. However, in tough economic times like these retaining jobs is just as important as creating jobs. By law the governor is the sole manager of the state’s workforce and it is his decision alone to layoff state workers. I am hopeful that the unions representing state workers and the governor will be able to implement cost cutting measures that prevent the proposed layoffs.

“There are several alternatives to layoffs of rank-and-file public servants who make this state run and provide the much-needed services to our residents. Local and state labor leaders have suggested ways to cut costs, including opportunities for the state to save on prescription drug costs. Another alternative would be to reduce management-level positions instead of across the board cuts that will impact our health and safety.

“The Assembly recently identified $250 million in savings the state could realize by reforming the method in which the state purchases Information Technology (IT). This measure will streamline government and reduce operating costs without affecting our workforce. Cost-cutting measures and reforms such as this should be the first line of defense in combating any reductions in workforce that will only add additional strain to our families and the state in these tough times.

“We need to take measures to cut spending where we know we are not being as efficient as we can be before we cut personnel. These measures may be more complex and difficult, but taking bold steps now will put us in a much better place in the future. I am hopeful the unions and the governor will be able to work together to save the state money.”