Sunday, May 31, 2009

Furloughs That Don't Work

The WSJ had an interesting article about Governor Doyle's proposed furloughs in today's paper.

Critics rip Doyle's all-UW furlough plan

The story points out that there are thousands of state and UW employees whose jobs are not funded with state tax money. In other words, furloughs for those workers will not help fix the state budget crisis.

My own job at the state Office of the Commissioner of Railroads is funded not with general tax revenues, but rather by assessments on railroads. Furloughing workers at my agency will not help fix the state budget mess, but it will make it harder for us to accomplish our work in a timely manner. Same thing applies at the state Public Service Commission, which is funded largely by assessments on utilities.

The Doyle Administration could craft a more focused implementation plan (they don't really seem to have a plan yet). Forcing these workers to take furloughs when that won't help fix the budget mess suggests that the Governor has an anti-state worker animus.


  1. Doug-
    I strongly agree (I also work on "program revenue") and our own Mark Miller seems to be intent own following the guv's marching orders....hook, line and sinker. This is in spite of the fact that Doyle is going to find it VERY hard to get relected...if I was in the Senate I would run and not hide with Guv Doyle.

  2. On another funny note-Mark Miller finds time to insert a large fiscal note for Aldo Leopold in the budget, but nothing to help state workers. (oh sorry-that was POCAN-HA!)
    I have to wonder about the thinking went into this one-Dear Mark-I think you should work on human capital rather than capital...and hold to your so called progressiv roots.

  3. The good news is that the administration has not figured out how to implement the furloughs, so there is time to fine tune. Of course, the Doyle administration plays everything extremely close to the vest.

    I have no problem with the Aldo Leopold funds. Nor I am disposed to refer to Mark Miller's progressive roots "so-called".

    By the way, Pocan is the co-chair of Joint Finance and by the way, has moved his business to Monona.

    WSJ story:
    "Pocan said he had helped secure the $500,000 grant for the Aldo Leopold Nature Center for a classroom and interactive lab for education about climate change because the $2.7 million project had not garnered enough in federal stimulus money."

  4. "I have no problem with the Aldo Leopold funds. Nor I am disposed to refer to Mark Miller's progressive roots "so-called". "

    You have no problem... while rome burns that they are fiddling with pork barrel spending. I like Aldo Leopold-but sheesh.

  5. I would still like to know if I heard the independent budget analyst who spoke after the governor’s state of the State address on WPTV/WHA-TV correctly, he said that the total budgets of the operating State agencies are only 10% of the entire State budget. He also said that if you remove the operating budget of the Dept. of Corrections from that figure the remaining agencies budgets are only 5% of the total State budget. Corrections operating budget alone is 5% of the State budget. This person also mentioned that after many previous budgets cycles in the last several years that the State employee workforce has been reduced considerably, leaving those that remain to take on that additional workload (do more with less). I can tell you that the wage increases that have been approved for the last nineteen years have never been close to cost of living increases, and I have been paying a portion of my healthcare costs all along, co-pay on prescriptions, and so much money every month toward my health insurance premiums. I will admit that the amount has been very reasonable, but when you consider the size of the wage increases it seems to even out. Another thing that usually occurs when we do get a wage increase, the Dept. of Administration (DOA) increases the cost of parking. I don’t park downtown; I park in a lot just off the West Beltline in a lot that has no security, or staffed booth, it hardly ever requires or get maintenance, etc… so what do I get when the cost for parking goes up but the lot stays the same. We do have many more people in the building (other agencies) now than in the past (it was just one agency) so the DOA does get more money over all to pay for snow removal, etc…

    My main point is when you consider the agencies being 5% or 10% of the total State budget, and then I have to wonder what percentage wages and benefits are of the agencies budgets and the total budget, what does that amount do to dramatically fill that gap in the budget. I think “getting a handle” on the State workers only sounds good if you want to keep the electorate happy for when you are running for office down the road. It wasn’t that long ago that Tommy Thompson gave us all a three hundred dollar tax relief check in an election year, and then left for Washington, that must have been a different pot of money! Governor McCallum inherited the budget, now Doyle has the ball.

    I do get a swell form letter on State Employee Appreciation Day each year telling me what a great job I’m doing serving all of you considering the times.

    We all pay State, local, and federal taxes, have a stake in it and desire efficient low cost government.

    I do consider myself a public servant and a steward of our/your tax dollars, and a few State Employees may give some a negative impression about “State Employees” Most are very talented hardworking people, trying to earn a living.
    It does take a few dollars and people to keep the whole thing in good condition and moving FORWARD, like it says on our flag!

    Paul Meyer
    Shore Acres Rd. Monona