Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Budget Cuts Starting Point

As with many localities and states, the state of Washington is struggling with its operating due to high levels of spending and a sharp decrease in revenue during this deep recession (I don’t care what the numbers say, we are still in a recession). Last winter, the legislature passed a spending bill that cut over $5 billion from the state budget. Even that wasn’t enough as Governor Christine Gregoire is seriously contemplating calling a special session in order to cut another $1 billion.

In the initial cuts, state workers saw an across the board cut in their salaries and many programs saw deep cuts. It is quite possible that more cuts will have to be initiated to get the budget balanced as revenue was under-forecasted.

In this environment of tightening budgets and people hollering their salaries or programs should be cut comes news from a state auditor that government employees are wasting our tax dollars.

Several state workers habitually tended to personal affairs while on the clock, including planning a wedding, trading stocks and even running a private business.

A new report by the state auditor details waste at state agencies, which cost some workers their jobs and led to a computer crackdown.

State employees use computers and phones to conduct their business, but they’re not supposed to use that equipment or their work time for anytime personal.

“State law’s pretty clear. You cannot use public resources – and that’s going to time, money or equipment – for personal use,” said state auditor Brain Sonntag. (Source: KOMO News)

Sure seems like there might be a little room for some more cuts in the budget if people can use their work time to conduct personal business. Here is an idea: the positions held by those folks that were fired or decided to resign in lieu of getting fired should not be filled. It certainly won’t make up much of the difference in the grand scheme of the budget shortfall, but it could be a starting point.

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