Handel calls for permanent reduction in government workers

Here is the press release from her campaign:

Former Secretary of State and gubernatorial candidate Karen Handel today called for a permanent reduction in the size of Georgia’s state workforce as one way to address budget shortfalls and focus on the key priorities in providing service to Georgia taxpayers.

“These are structural deficits for the state with revenues being re-set to a “new,” significantly lower, normal,” Handel said. “We have a responsibility to be honest with the people of Georgia and to begin serious, long-term reductions now in order to ensure future viability.”

“Now is most certainly not the time for a tax increase that will only further stifle job creation and burden our citizens. We’ve got to stop thinking of government as a jobs program and get back to the guiding principle of a limited government that delivers only key services in the most efficient manner possible,” Handel said. “I permanently downsized the Secretary of State’s office by nearly 20% by reducing the workforce, eliminating waste and duplication, and increasing efficiencies. I believe the state, as a whole, can – must — do this as well.”

Handel’s proposal would permanently cut at least 10% of state government positions in the 2011 budget year – excluding teachers and public safety officers (State Patrol, GBI, Pardons & Parole, and Corrections). These reductions will yield $404 million in savings. Handel is specifically calling for:

Permanent elimination of 10% of state government positions for FY2011 budget year – excluding teachers and public safety officers (State Patrol, GBI, etc.). This would save approximately $404 million and reduce the workforce by approximately 7,800 employees.

Keep permanent the Governor’s budget savings to date achieved through attrition, resignations, and retirements. According to the State Personnel Administration, this represents nearly 5% of the workforce and equals an additional $190 million in savings.

Require zero-based-budgeting across state agencies. Legislation will not be required in a Handel administration.

Reorganize agencies to reduce management layers and achieve supervisor/ employee ratio of 8 or 9 employees to 1 supervisor. Too often employees are promoted to supervisor or manager positions because of length of service rather than a reflection of management responsibilities.

Launch an intensive effort to identify and eliminate non-essential services and programs, maximize outsourcing opportunities, move to shared-services approach for administrative services such human resources, review and eliminate non-essential boards and commissions, and identify opportunities to consolidate agencies.
Reform state salary and benefits by moving state employees to “paid time off” (or PTO) and limited leave carry-over rather than the current accrual system, which allows employees to “bank” significant amounts of sick, compensatory, and vacation time that is then used to “bridge” to retirement or is cashed-in upon departure/retirement.
Vigorously utilize the line item veto to keep spending in check during the recovery and eliminate unneeded government programs.

“It is simply irresponsible to talk about teacher furloughs and shorter school weeks before we have made permanent cuts throughout state government,” Handel said. “Georgia’s children need to be in school more, not less.”

“Georgia families and businesses — large and small — have made the tough decisions and downsized to keep their expenditures within their means. The state must now do the same,” Handel continued. “These are the hard decisions that leaders must make in difficult times.”

136 comments

  1. LoyaltyIsMyHonor says:

    That’s a nice start I guess. But the majority of labor costs for the state are not state employees, but the teachers.

    • polisavvy says:

      You are right on target, Loyalty — teachers make up the biggest piece of Georgia’s workforce. I’m not advocating reducing the number of teachers, by no means; however, there can be reductions without adding to unemployment.

    • mongo says:

      Public school teachers are employees of local county or municipal schools systems, not employees of the State of Georgia. If I understand this proposal correctly, it would not apply to local government workers like teachers, but rather people employed directly by a state agency such as the Dept. of Transportation, Dept. of Agriculture, Dept. of Driver Services, Governor’s Office of Consumer Affairs, Office of the Secretary of State, etc.

      • LoyaltyIsMyHonor says:

        Yes, teachers are County and City employees, but their salaries are funded by the state. Hence, their anger toward the legislature and Governor every time their COLAs are suspended. Also, the 6 furlough days teacher were required to take this fiscal year saved the state over $203 million, while State employee furloughs saved almost $69 million. Although some agencies did not furlough their employees the entire 6 days.

        I’m not bashing teachers, I’m just pointing that there’s a lot of money going toward them.

        And yes, this proposal does not include teachers, hence my initial post.

    • polisavvy says:

      That will really help Georgia’s employment rate, won’t it? Might have cost her 7,800+ votes (workers and their families and friends). I believe there are ways to reduce the budget without contributing to our already staggering unemployment rate.

      • LoyaltyIsMyHonor says:

        Well, I’m a State employee, and even I don’t think the State should employ people for the sake of keeping the unemployment rate low…lol. If there’s fat to trim, let’s trim it.

        • polisavvy says:

          Sure, if there’s fat; but, what troubles me is why there was ever 7800 people employed that could be so readily cut loose. Why did Georgia ever grow to that extent in the first place? Who ever thought that that was a good idea? Big government, on all levels, needs to end. It’s not the answer to a problem, it creates a problem.

          • NorthGAGOP says:

            “Big government at all levels, needs to end”

            Your right – Handel just called for it. She did it as Secretary of State .

          • polisavvy says:

            Agreed. Do you think that there are other ways and other levels that can be cut as well? I’m all for cutting, where cuts need to be made. I just want to know why it ever happened in the first place that that many jobs could be so easily extinguished. Any idea? My reason for asking is so I can understand how it was ever allowed. When did government grow the largest — under a democrat or republican administration? You seem so knowledgeable about these things and even though we don’t support the same candidate, I still value your insight. Thanks.

            • AlanR says:

              Liberals like to grow government. You define yourself by how big your budget is, how many staff. Careerists in government just think this way. And I don’t mean that this is done maliciously, its just their world view. Conservatives grow government the way middle aged men gain weight. No one turns 50 and decides to gain 30 or 40 pounds, but by about 55, your pants are about three inches larger around the waist. Its like, well, why not have just a little more?

          • LoyaltyIsMyHonor says:

            I would imagine that that 7800 number is loaded with many many vacant positions as it is. This is just a stunt…nothing more. Looks good during an election year.

          • Republican Lady says:

            Here is the way I see the problem. I doubt that the fat includes 7800 positions. The positions could be positions vacated and not filled through retirement, firings, or people accepting other jobs. Then instead of having enough employees to get a job done in a reasonable period of time, by laying off staff in different departments, fewer people do the job of more.

            For example, having enough people to examine and cut checks for Georgia Income Tax overpayments. By cutting some of the people and the ones remaining doing more work, that tax return that would have taken six to eight weeks will now take six to eight months. Cutting this many employees isn’t cutting fat, it is making starvation cuts to balance the budget.

            • NorthGAGOP says:

              Simple question. Where should job growth come from, the private sector or government?

              If you believe that it comes from the private sector, you should know that Handel has already announced a plan to support small business job growth.

              If you believe it comes from government, you may want to look at somebody else.

          • benevolus says:

            She’s not really saying there is fat. She’s just cutting a random number- 10%- without really justifying it at all.

  2. John Konop says:

    As far as education a 20% cut back of administrators should happen first. And a 20% roll-back on wages for administrators making over a 100k year. Combine the governors’ education staff with the State School Superintendent office and cut it by 75% and eliminate all travel educational conferences, perks……

    We should also look at raising fess for lunches, fuel……before even looking at cutting any teachers.

    • Chris says:

      To make up for the no cuts to Teachers, I’d like to see a 20% cut to everyone in the Dept of Education that doesn’t work in a classroom.

      • polisavvy says:

        That’s a great place to start. I totally agree with you. I also agree with John Konop. I have always wondered why, back in the day when my high school had 2000 students, we only had a principal and an assistant principal. Now, the same high school with 2400 students has a principal and five assistant principals. Why is that necessary?

        • Chris says:

          And how many employees work in the District office?

          Hell. I’d settle for no cuts to people who work in the schools, and a 50% cut to those who don’t work in a school. I’ve seen the huge office building Gwinnett Public Schools has.

          • polisavvy says:

            I agree with you Chris about the non-teacher cuts happening — we call our board of education building a shrine, complete with copper steeple.

          • NorthGeorgiaGirl says:

            Some of the employees at the district offices are there to manage what the government throws at them, and for no other reason. It isn’t that the systems want to waste money, but they are forced by the state taking federal money to have someone to administer all of the requirements or they are out of compliance.

            For instance, I know that our medium sized school system has one district office employee dedicated to managing the federal grants and requirements placed on them by the feds. They also have a person dedicated to administering all of the tests the state and federal governments require….GKIDS for Kindergarten, 3rd grade writing, 5th grade writing, CRCT for 1st-8th, GAA (for severe and profound special ed), gifted testing, ACCESS for English Language Learners, the End of Course Tests and the Graduation test. I know I am missing some tests, but larger systems must have many people to help make sure everyone gets the forms they need and are trained on giving the tests, and make sure that any irregularities are reported, or they will wind up on the Needs Improvement list. Cut out all of the testing, cut an employee or 2 or 10.

            I like the idea of paying parents a small sum to home school. My children would greatly benefit from me having the extra cash to buy more books for our little home school.

        • GOPGeorgia says:

          I’d bet that the school board of the county was offered a federal grant to get the extra assistant principals, and that grant would pay for their training and salaries for 1 to 5 years. After that, it’s up to the citizens of your county to keep them employed. To top it off, because they took the federal money, now they have to spend time filling out forms to send back to the Federal Dept. of Ed….forever.

          BTW, I’ve seen some really good thoughts in this thread. Keep it up.

      • Buzzfan says:

        Very good idea, and good points by JK and ‘savvy.

        Personally, I have a lot of empathy for teachers (maybe from having been married to an elementary teacher in a former life.) Most don’t realize how much time outside the school day is spent working on lesson plans, classroom boards/displays, teaching materials (don’t ask me how many weekends I helped laminate and cut out stuff!). And, as many accurately note, very often teachers have to dip into their own pockets to keep their classrooms supplied when the school budget and parent donations can’t cover the needs.

        On the broader perspective, we (as a country, really) do not hold the position of ‘educator’ with the regard and respect it deserves. In some sense, however, it’s a 2-edged sword. Much of the rest of the industrialized world treats the teaching profession with much more respect (and compensation), but they also have higher expectations and requirements…for not only becoming a teacher (toughness of the degree) but maintaining a position.

        And, yes, in the long run the quality of the educator pool is lessened by the unions (send nasty emails to [email protected] ..I can take it).

        • polisavvy says:

          It is pathetic the lack of respect that teachers get. My sister-in-law taught school for 30 years. It cost her a small fortune over those years to have the necessities to teach her kids. Also, The day they started requiring all the unnecessary, needless paperwork is the day that teachers started not enjoying their jobs any longer. As far as the respect issue, a good bit of that comes from the home. I used to volunteer at my kids’ school and was totally amazed at how the parents interacted with the administrators and teachers by flat out telling them that their kids didn’t have to listen to “a damn word you say. I’m that kid’s parent. You aren’t.” Kids hear this stuff then the respect in the classroom diminishes. And, I won’t give out my email address; however, you are dead on about the union (silent or otherwise). Unions have had a very detrimental impact on the teachers and then, through trickle down, on the students.

      • Abosolutely, but go further. I’ll see your 20% cut to everyone in the Dept. of Education that doesn’t work in a classroom, and raise you this:

        Every elected official in the state must serve as a substitute teacher at least one day a month in their home district’s most at-risk school. This way, they’ll be more aware of what teachers have to deal with AND they’ll see how their allocations evaporate somewhere between the committee chamber and the classroom.

          • ByteMe says:

            Not even sure Kindergarten would work for some of these officials, since they haven’t mastered “playing well with others”.

        • highonthehill says:

          now that is a real plan…years ago when working for the UofF on NIH grants…45% of the money went to managing the grant, so every year we had to apply for a little more to cover the actual research…guess it must be the same at all gov’t levels.

          • ByteMe says:

            Relatively small grants to non-governmental research organizations are not the same as pretty much any large-scale government activity.

    • Clayton says:

      John (and Chris)

      I used your formula on Fulton County’s 2009 salary figures. The savings, if we brought all travel/conference spending to zero, eliminated 20% of adminstrators, and rolled back salaries over $100k would be a grand total of about $6M. On a budget of $830M. The travel/conference spending itself accounted for less than $1M.

      Now, I’m biased as the son of a lifelong classroom teacher, and a lifelong school principal and administrator, but you’re blind if you think that schools themselves are running fat. Principals have the budget authority for their own schools, and most, if not all of them have been forced to eliminate non essential positions and programs year over year. A principal would generally much rather have two teachers in the classroom instead of an additional AP.

      As to why there are “so many” APs in schools these days – remember that the APs are people managers as well as educators – so for a school of 2400 students, each AP would be required to manage their portion of 200 or so faculty members in addition to their student responsibilities. That makes their management responsibilities much greater than the private sector.

      So what is the solution? Non-school based personnel should run as thin as possible. I totally agree that cuts should come outside of the classroom first, but it’s short sighted to think that the rest of the support staff in a school could be trimmed so easily.

      • polisavvy says:

        No disrespect meant, but you really think that a school with 2400 students really needs a principal and four assistant principals in 2010, when in 1972, a school with 2000 students and just a principal and an assistant principal was enough. How can the addition of 400 more students require 3 extra people? We had a very large faculty and facilities staff and only one principal and one assistant principal. It was also before computers were used in schools. We functioned just fine — a little crowded, but fine. Things haven’t changed that much to where you need three extra bodies drawing salaries that could be put towards instruction or necessities.

        • Chris says:

          “but you really think that a school with 2400 students really needs a principal and four assistant principals in 2010, when in 1972, a school with 2000 students and just a principal and an assistant principal was enough. ”

          Thanks to the Federal (and state) government, YES.

        • Clayton says:

          A school of 2000 students in 1972 with only two administrators would have been very unusual, nationwide.

          And things have changed tremendously since 1972 in both the curriculum and delivery of education.

          So, yes, I propose that five administrators for a school of 2400 is very normal. I can bet you that every one of their days is more than full.

          • polisavvy says:

            So you think that schools today require more administrators than schools in the late 60’s and early 70’s when integration had just occurred and there were two races of kids thrown together for the first time. You don’t think that their days were full? Guess again. There were fights, riots, demonstrations, all sorts of things going on all the time and those two men handled it beautifully. There were two high schools worth of teachers so they had their fair share of administrative issues to deal with. Sorry, I think that if it could be done under those adverse situations, it could be done now, especially if it could save money or redirect money to areas of need.

            • benevolus says:

              That is such a classic conservative mindset. Whatever was good enough for you when you were a teenager should be good enough for everybody else.

              • polisavvy says:

                Why are you missing the point? The point is if money can be cut from education, why not make the cuts that won’t affect the children detrimentally? If a school can function with less administrators, why not save money that way? Why not do anything to keep the children from having reduced class instruction time? As far as a conservative mindset, well, you can call it whatever you like. I like to think that this is possibly a way in which education can save money and put it to better good.

                • benevolus says:

                  No one would argue with that- in principle. But it is a very different world now than it was 40 years ago. We can wish for a simpler time, when paddling a child was OK and the bad kids were just smoking cigarettes in the bathroom. But it’s just not that simple anymore. Sometimes improvement involves increased complexity. Cars used to be much simpler too; were they better? The part that I am objecting to is the Pavlovian assumption that more administrators is automatically bad. If someone can find some real waste and/or duplication then fine, cut it. Is that not happening all the time? Why does it take a governors race for all this waste to suddenly appear?

                  • polisavvy says:

                    I have been wondering the same thing and actually asked that yesterday. My question is two part: (1) why did the waste of government money begin in the first place; and (2) why is it only really being discussed now? I think you’re onto something in that appears as though the waste has been going on for a considerable amount of time. Now, more than ever, whatever needs to be done needs to be done, and the sooner the better.

                    • benevolus says:

                      You are assuming there is waste and it has been going on for some time.

                      Just because a candidate proposes cuts with nothing to back it up does not mean there is (that much) waste. Her “ideas” are completely theoretical as far as I can tell. “Too often employees are promoted to supervisor or manager positions because of length of service rather than a reflection of management responsibilities.” Well, technically true I suppose, because if it happens once it’s “too often” and I’m sure it’s happened at least once, but is there any indication that it is really a problem other than in some consultants playbook?

    • nast says:

      As a different approach – while going through reductions, how about investigating the impact of actually increasing the remaining pay grades, instead? If you truly want to do more with less, you need to attract bright and capable people. That’s not going to happen if you expect them to work for a fraction of what they could get in the private sector. If you could hire one person at $65k that can match the output of three people at $25k each, I’m still saving money.

    • Three Jack says:

      cut everywhere but the union. typical konop reaction.

      truth is, ga teachers are the 2nd highest paid in america based on cost of living study.

      it’s time to bust the teacher unions, pay them based on their individual value vs. collective uselessness. let’s not forget, ga ranks at the bottom of almost all educational standards despite over-compensating union teachers.

  3. Chris says:

    Also, cutting the legislature by 10% is pretty good idea too. I suspect that requires a constitutional amendment. Fortunately re-districting is coming up

  4. Progressive Dem says:

    Does Ms. Handel want to cut the State Ethics Commission, too?

    Or perhaps she’d prefer to start with public health workers, food inspectors, mental health facility workers, the enviornment protection division and children and family services.

    Col. Hitchens of the Department of Public Safety testfied this week that Georgia would have to triple the size of the Georgia State Patrol to comply with national standards! Triple!

    Georgia government spends less than 47 other states on a per capita basis. The “structural deficits” referenced by Ms. Handel cannot be addressed simply by looking at the expenditure side of the ledger. Georgia must revamp its revenue structure to provide essential functions like the State Patrol, adequate education public health and safety. And like most Georgians, I’d like to see the enviornment protected along the way.

    The GOP said they were cutting the fat from the budget for 8 years. The Governor hired inspectors general and we had the New Georgia Commission. Was this all show and soundbites? So, now Ms. Handel comes out with this press release about reducing government, …. but this time we ‘re really, really serious about cutting government spending and waste. Color me cynical, but it sounds like another empty, and frankly ineffective promise by a politician.

    • Silent Outrage says:

      Perhaps you missed the part where Mrs. Handel said that this would exclude teachers and those in public safety.

      We have to get our priorities in order and those are at the top.

      I’m not sure where it’s written that Government is the only entity that doesn’t have to modernize and innovate.

      • benevolus says:

        Well if her time at the SoS office is any indication, this will be rough. She cut her office by 20%, and in return we get a voter registration verification process that had about a 50% error rate.

    • How about simply hiring more competent people? I have a scale that has to be certified by the Dept of Agriculture’s weights and measures division, and the inspector didn’t even understand the difference between kg and lbs, nor did he understand lbs when expressed in decimal points versus fractions. What a fun hour and a half that was…

        • Yes, but as mentioned elsewhere in this thread, you could hire fewer of them. A competent person it would have taken 5 minutes to check the scale and leave to go to the next place instead of the hour and a half I wasted with this person.

            • Not if done in equal increments. Say you bring one person in to replace three people and only pay them twice as much as one of those people. You’re saving one yearly salary there. In addition though, two government owned vehicles are no longer needed – you can sell those and continue to reap savings on maintenance. I’m sure there are other efficiencies to be gained as well, but I’d probably have to take a closer look at how things are currently run to find them.

              • benevolus says:

                OK, well I don’t think anyone would argue with that in theory. But even in your anecdote, presumably that guy was new to his position for one reason or another- cutbacks or furloughs maybe? And no training budget?
                Doesn’t mean he’s permanently incompetent and should be terminated. If he’s still clueless next inspection, then yeah, hopefully he will have a supervisor who can review his competency- if Handel hasn’t cut the supervisory position by then.

    • Capt. Jack Sparrow says:

      Triple my @$$!
      Ride on any road in Georgia and you will see more cops than ever before. All with their radar guns in hand. They are generating revenue (i.e. increasing taxes) on citizens that have basically done nothing wrong.

      Now, during a robbery, murder, rape, etc. try and find one. If you live through it they will come write a report for the insurance company, but their major crime prevention efforts and not as focused as their speeding prevention efforts.

      • Republican Lady says:

        If you go to any major police/sheriff agency and ask for their arrest statistics (public information), you will find that many traffic arrests are made on outstanding warrants for murder, rape, armed robbery, burglary, probation violations, drug dealers with large quantites of illegal substances, and other related offenses with outstanding warrants.

        Yes there does appear to be a high number of radar officers out on the roads when there is the highest number of cars, like rush hour or just after or just before rush hours. Take the number of felony offenders they catch and multiply that by at least two hours each, the amount of time they have to go to each address to find the perp arrested on the traffic stop only to find the offender is not there, and you will see that the best use of those man hours are standing or sitting on the side of the road running radar, and arresting felons, which keeps us all safe.

  5. RuralDem says:

    “Too often employees are promoted to supervisor or manager positions because of length of service rather than a reflection of management responsibilities.”

    I completely understand this, but, it’s just funny considering the candidate and the trouble she has serving a full term. Length of service is definitely something Handel has no concern for.

    Let’s just hope no Senate or Congressional seats open up if Handel becomes Governor.

    • analogkid says:

      “Let’s just hope no Senate or Congressional seats open up if Handel becomes Governor.”

      Actually, I hope a seat DOES open up were she to be elected governor. She’d be far less damaging to Georgia as a junior senator or representative than she would as governor.

      Handel 2011-2012 1/2!

  6. IndyInjun says:

    The teachers will end of being cut, because that is where the money is.

    Wouldn’t if be better to cut salaries and keep them all employed?

    If we are to avoid the killing-each-other scenario there is going to have to be shared sacrifice, with no entitlement, no government expenditure sacrosanct.

    Here is my test question of the day, given the commentariat’s take – Will taxes be raised to absolve Georgia’s teachers from taking any cuts?

    OK, for the sake of my continuing evaluation – Mozart is right, buy guns and ammo VERSUS Rational people will prevail and agree to sacrifice their own particular entitlements – I am putting this thread in Mozart’s column.

    Next up, buy .380 auto or 7.62 mm? Buy Keltec or Sig Sauer?

    • Mozart says:

      Indy, you put too much faith in people knowing that the term “rational” means. It’s like the term “common sense.” Common sense died long ago. I think there was even a book written about it.

      • IndyInjun says:

        How many rounds will I need to sell in 3 years to pay my property tax bill to fund these sacrosanct folks?

        Mozart, since I chalked this one up to you…….taking the .380 first……

        Cor-Bon ? FMJ (Full Metal Jacket)?JHP? (Jacketed Hollow Point)

        Or will they simply take all of the chickens that are coming home to roost?

  7. Mozart says:

    Pretty sure the bulk of government costs are capital spending and not labor costs.

    Cut all the labor costs you want…and then you’ll be put on hold for 24 hours while waiting for an answer to your question on the phone.

    Reeeeeeeally smart.

      • Mozart says:

        I’m more thinking that the state government get completely out of the business of owning buildings and engage in a sell-and-lease back arrangement with commercial property managers. It’ll generate cash which can then be used to pay-down debt.

        • John Konop says:

          You can debate about if owning or renting is better all day long, but no one can debate cross utilizing staff and or building space saves big money ie like a high school at night used for a college, vocational school……., combining redundant staffs at the governors office with agencies…..

          • polisavvy says:

            That’s exactly what is being looked into almost as we are speaking. They are looking into combining agencies which could create big savings. Also, are you aware of the waste the state spends on airplanes. Why does the State of Georgia have four airplanes for the administration/agency usage? Also, are you aware that the Forestry Commission has multiple planes that are flown very seldom, but must be maintained? It would be more prudent to lease planes in times of necessity than to have them just lying around “collecting dust.” There are so many ways to cut the budget. I believe that Karen Handel is right that budget cuts need to be made; however, I think that she’s not looking in all the right places where the cuts could be made and potentially keep 7800 employees from losing their jobs.

            • NorthGAGOP says:

              Savvy,
              You sure have the Scott talking points down very well 😉
              Selling a few planes doesn’t lead to smaller government. There are a lot of people who have the talking points down on being for smaller government. Handel talked the talked and walked the walk – she made it happen.

              What you have done inn the past is a great indicator of what you will do in the future. Look at our current president. All he had was legislative experience, and no true management experience. Where has that gotten us?

              Handel has a proven track record of success and getting the job done. She know’s how to make the tough choices.

              • polisavvy says:

                In realize that selling planes will not solve all problems. I can’t believe you think that that is the only proposal/idea he has. He’s been around the block for a few years (14 to be exact) and in his position as a representative and the various committees he’s served on, has been privy to all facets of the state’s budget. Contrary to what you believe, with your sometimes air of superiority, I am nobody’s fool. Perhaps you are unaware of the other ways in which he had proposed ways in which to cut the budget. There is much more than apparently you are aware. But you, for some reason, seem to be so in the tank for Mrs. Handel that you are not willing to give a brief listen to whatever any of the other candidates are saying. Representative Scott is not the only person challenging her. He is not the only person with some significant ideas for improving and helping the economy. Yes, she’s got a proven track record alright for success in lowering her former office’s budget and being able to avoid furloughs; however, believe it or not, many of us are aware of just how she went about it, too. A true fiscal conservative would probably not have taken the course that she chose.

                • NorthGAGOP says:

                  Savvy,
                  I listen to all ideas. Do I have an air of superiority, maybe, if I do it’s because I believe that I am supporting the best most qualified candidate for the job.

                  I have had the opportunity to hear all the candidates along the way. After hearing their stated positions, track records, and qualifications I determined Karen is the one.

                  • polisavvy says:

                    I am glad that you feel so strongly about your candidate and hope that you can appreciate the fact that I feel strongly about mine. I personally feel that our candidates are both strong and worthy of consideration. Let’s just hope that some of the undecideds head in either of our way instead of some of the others. That would be a pity.

                • janna says:

                  “many of us are aware of just how she went about it, too. A true fiscal conservative would probably not have taken the course that she chose.”

                  For those of us out of that loop, would you please expand upon this?

          • John Konop says:

            I agree, but I do think Karen is tough enough to brake down walls between agencies. And the only other candidate on the GOP side would be Scott in my opinion seems like he would not be scared to not play politics get something done.

            Ox and Deal come across like slick deal makers, not tough managers. And this is not the time for lets make a deal with lobbyist with tax payers money!

            As far the Dems I really do not know much about Barnes since most my time was during the Sonny years. And I really know very little about Baker.

            • Silent Outrage says:

              Ox and Deal won’t do anything for numerous reasons.

              We need a REAL CONSERVATIVE as Governor so that we can be an example to the rest of the country, not an embarracement to the rest of the country (Deal / Ox).

              • Agreed. Though I disagree with Karen on certain things – like Sunday alcohol sales and the Diebold voting machines not having any form of paper trail – I think she’d make a much better choice than either Ox or Deal.

                    • benevolus says:

                      I don’t know. I just know he’s probably better than that guy Horlacher whose main campaign theme seems to be that he took a lie detector test to show that he hasn’t ever cheated on his wife.

                      That kind of thing would actually probably appeal to Republicans now that I think about it. It’s got the sanctity of marriage angle, the law enforcement appetite is fed, there’s a little drama with a prurient hint. What’s not to like?

    • Dave Bearse says:

      You’ve a poor understanding of state Department budgets if you think the bulk of government costs are capital spending. Excluding debt repayment (6% of the total which isn’t as a practical matter subject to being “cut” anyway) and GDOT, please name any meaningful-sized agency where state fund capital expenditures exceeed operating costs (which is mostly labor, and costs directly supporting labor), or even develop a list of a half dozen agencies that amount to anything.

      Education (>50%) and Healthcare (>20%) and Public Safety/Corrections (>5%) combined account for an overwhelming majority of state expenses are labor-intensive (or perhaps in the case of Healthcare service [not capital] intensive) budgets.

  8. IndyInjun says:

    I read somewhere that there were hundreds of Georgia Teachers whose jobs are now funded under Fed stimulous grants.

    More Fed stimulous is being called for.

    Question – If the Federal government bails out the states to the tune of $trillions and has to sell debt to pay for it, who on earth will buy said debt when the interest is taxable, whereas state and local debt isn’t, yet still has the same “full faith and credit” guarantee.

  9. Donna Locke says:

    Good guidance, Karen.

    And, folks, regarding cutting jobs in education, you might look at growing population numbers and school-age population numbers — and what is driving those numbers.

    • polisavvy says:

      Donna, it’s kind of ironic that you said what you did about the growing population numbers. They just announced where I live that the largest high school, largest elementary school, and one of the other elementary schools are going to be phased out over the next three years. I can’t imagine what they are going to do with 2400 kids from one high school, ranked 5A, and spread them out among two other high schools, ranked 4A and 3A. The space isn’t there at those schools. We are wondering what the heck is going to happen to those kids and how many trailers will have to be purchased. Our county was one of the fastest growing counties in the country until the economy went south. This is an end result, I guess.

  10. polisavvy says:

    Let’s face it, the current Governor has been lax in getting the budget out. What do you think of a candidate who wants to get the State budget out by December 10th so that the legislature can begin looking at it. Remember, the local governments cannot start working on their budgets until the State is approved. Sometimes it not available until June. According the the local governments, they would really like to get it by March. The lateness of the local governments makes it difficult for the school boards to get their budget set as well (this is according to a conversation I had with a board member here where I live). Does this sound like a fairly solid plan and one that could possibly help all levels of the government?

  11. Republican Lady says:

    I posted something similar to this on another blog and feel I need to post it here after giving it more thought. Depending on the source, Georgia is about 46 out of 50, depending on which article one reads so cutting teachers doesn’t make sense and apparently, Karen is sensitive to that fact.

    I feel there is a way to improve education and save money, go to a three month quarter, take three weeks off, three months on, three weeks off, year round. I think one of educational problems is summer break. That is too long a period to be out of school for kids.

    As the system stands, time has to be taken in August to get kids back into the groove of going to bed, getting up early and relearn lost study habits. Summer is educational dead time for most kids and the first month back is spent on relearning what was lost over that time period.

    By modifying the school schedule in this manner, kids spend less time out of the educational enviroment and three full months are saved per year where resources are not used.

    Just a thought.

  12. Harry says:

    I can’t understand why anyone would criticize Karen Handel for giving up a government job to run for governor. I get annoyed when the opposite happens – spending time campaigning while still holding a public job, receiving a government check and not fulfilling the duties of the office.

    • Agreed. While I would have preferred that she serve out her current term as Secretary of State and campaign for Governor after her term finished, I would much rather have her step down to run for Governor than continue to run while in office. Ox, on the other hand, gets to use our time and tax dollars to campaign – including through the Insurance Commissioner’s website, which looks almost like a state paid for campaign website. Notice how every single one of the rotating pictures at the top of the page includes him in the picture? That’s probably just a coincidence, right?

    • georgiahack says:

      Harry,

      If this was her first time doing so, I don’t think as many would have a problem with her stepping down. BUT, she has a history of never finishing a job.

      So, what do you say to Kemp now “spending time campaigning while still holding a public job, receiving a government check and not fulfilling the duties of the office.”

      Someone has to do it. Unless we follow Sonny’s power grab of appointing a lot of the statewide offices.

      As an aside, I agree with appointing a few of the statewides, though, I would want to start slow, doing one at a time to better iron out the process.

  13. Silent Outrage says:

    Imagine – a conservative Republican actually proposing to really shring the size of government. I think based on what she’s said, she isn’t going to be doing it across the board but rather through getting our priorities in order, modernizing, and then eliminating the jobs no longer necessary.

    FINALLY. Seriously. FINALLY.

  14. Three Jack says:

    good start by karen, but somebody better get serious about government pension payments. there is no way to sustain the current programs.

  15. aquaman says:

    You can talk all you want about cutting this program or that agency, reducing waste or duplication of effort; but the problem with government is GOVERNMENT. Just complying with all the “accountability” the public demands takes a large portion of every employees’ time. Mind numbing personnel evaluations take more. Contracting with the public sector is ridiculously convoluted. In the private sector an employee checks with his boss on traveling to say a trade show and the boss says; good idea see you later. In government an employee writes a justification for travel that goes up the line for approval then back down, if approved the employee then has to arrange for a pool vehicle or purchase airline tickets (often through a special travel office), then locate a hotel that offers government rate rooms, etc. Upon returning a debriefing may be required plus the expense reimbursement forms must be completed. These are usually scrutinized (by someone whose job it is to do only that) and sent back for recalculation.

    The point is efficient government is an oxymoron. We can have less government but efficient government will elude us because we taxpayers want accountability.

  16. IndyInjun says:

    Thanks, Harry. That was informative.

    You aren’t turning libertarian on us, now, are you?

    Pity the poor census taker.

    Wonder how many of them will answer your questions for you when you refuse rather than go back to the Bureau empty formed?

  17. AlanR says:

    Handel deserves credit for setting a pretty high standard for campaign rhetoric. This is a pretty substantive proposal, whether you agree with it, or have other ideas, at least Handel has told us enough to have an extensive discussion.

    Have any of the other campaigns done anything like this? Not on the same topic, but any topic, at this level of detail? Just wondering.

    And thanks to all for a pretty good crash course in Georgia civics and budgeting.

  18. Republican Lady says:

    There many examples of waste. For example, I see city police cars in home driveways 20+ miles outside of their jurisdictions, like Sandy Springs, Alpharetta, Johns Creek, and Milton to name a few.

    I wonder if the citizens realize their tax dollars are paying for officers to have take home cars so far out of the jurisdiction where they work when regular citizens are having to find money to pay the constantly rising gasoline prices?

    • Mozart says:

      Oh, puh-leeze! That might be the most ignorant freaking statement I’ve ever seen!

      Are you saying that only if a police officer lives in the district/county/municipality that they can work in it?

      I’ll support police officers driving patrol cars home (yes, Dear, even if it is “20 miles” outside of their jurisdictions).

      You got ANY idea of how difficult it is to find good people to want to be police officers? And now you want to make it some sort of requirement that only if they live in the jurisdiction can they work for the department and/or drive a car home?

      Hey! Here’s a way to save the taxpayer some money: Let’s pass a law that says police officers are only allowed to drive 10 miles a day for their patrols. How about that? That’ll save us a lot of money, won’t it?

      • Republican Lady says:

        Let me draw a simple picture so you can understand what appears to be complex for you.

        Many jurisdictions require police officers live in where they work IF they want take home cars. It is not fair to city voters, with gas prices steadily rising, and in this economy, to spend scarce monies for someone to have a ride to work/home.

        Studies show that allowing officers to drive their cars home is advantageous because it cuts crime, however, once an officer leaves their jurisdiction, they have no arrest powers ergo, they must live where they work in order to get the most bang for the tax buck. Allowing officers outside the area to take cars home defeats the social benefits and purpose, and waste sunk costs.

        There are many good people on waiting lists to get police jobs, several are returning soldiers, but they cannot do so because there is no money to hire them. Take away the cars city officers use outside jurisdictions and that gas money could add more officers to the force to fight crime.

        Passing a law saying officers can only drive 10 miles on their patrol is silly and counter-productive. You sound more intelligent if you base your argument on facts and not emotion or baseless conjecture.

        Is this clearer for you now?

  19. analogkid says:

    So let’s talk about this aspect of her plan:

    “Reform state salary and benefits by moving state employees to “paid time off” (or PTO) and limited leave carry-over rather than the current accrual system, which allows employees to “bank” significant amounts of sick, compensatory, and vacation time that is then used to “bridge” to retirement or is cashed-in upon departure/retirement.”

    Here is why this won’t work. In order to move current state employees to PTO, you’d have to do one of two things: (1) tell employees that all the vacation and sick leave they’ve banked is no longer valid; Or, (2) pay out all existing leave at current salaries in order to start all employees at ground zero. If she chooses option 2, she will cause the state to incur a huge one-time expense when it can least afford to do so. If she chooses option 1, she will get sued by state employees and will, without question, lose. A court will then order her to either maintain the current system or pay out all leave at existing salaries.

    So the only option she really has is to grandfather current employees and force new employees into the PTO system, which is not a bad idea, but no significant savings will be realized for many years.

    • analogkid says:

      Oh, and just to put things in perspective, here’s a rough calculation of the cost of paying out all leave at current salaries:

      80,000 full-time state employees (I think the actual number is higher, but whatever…)

      Average annual salary per employee is about $40,000. That translates to an hourly rate of roughly $19 ($40,000 per year/(40 hours per week X 52 weeks per year = $19)

      Average number of hours of stockpiled vacation leave: 40 hours (This is a total guess, but I’m choosing to err on the conservative side. State employees can stockpile up to 300 I think).

      That gives us:
      80,000 employees X $19 per hour X 40 hours per employee = $60,800,000!

      And this is supposed to be a cost saving measure? Worse, imagine if the average number of hours of leave per employee was double or triple my assumption. The expense then becomes $120M or $180M.

      • janna says:

        State employees can accrue 370 hrs of annual leave and 720 hrs sick leave. One you hit those limits it become forfeited leave. Forfeited leave can be applied as time in service towards retirement. I stay maxed out on annual and sick leave and look at it as a safety net in the event of serious illness. I assure you, if my leave is taken I will be expecting a fat check in exchange for it. As you say, there won’t be much of savings. Switching new hires to a PTO plan makes sense.

  20. Mozart says:

    It is amazing how someone who has never looked at what each department does and why it was formed can surmise that she can just wade-in and cut employees at will.

    Why did Handel not test the theory of zero-based budgeting in the management of her SOS office?

    If zero-based budgeting was required, any department head might discover exactly where to cut and what to keep via the discovery of “value” and “non-value” activities.

    • Republican Lady says:

      Facts, Mozart, facts. Give proof she never looked at what each department does and cut employees at will. How do you know she did not test the theory go zero-based budgeting? Again, facts, not emotion, supposition, or groundless accusations.

    • NorthGAGOP says:

      Mozart,
      She implemented zero based budgeting as SoS. It enabled her to find non-value added activities and cut those.

      • benevolus says:

        Hah! If you consider worse access to public records and failure to properly register new voters “non-valued added” activities!

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