Good Pennsylvania State Budget Questions I Can’t Answer

A reader sent us this, which is an excellent question about how many state worker will really have to be laid off:

I have heard a lot of speculation about what the dramatic impact of the spending cuts would be (according to Rendellian budget analysis). One of the items cited is a huge loss of State jobs. I think they cited something like 800 jobs. I would like to understand if anybody has gotten a hard analysis of those jobs that would be lost from the Governor? How many are current active employees? How many are openings that won’t be filled? How many are rank and file vs managerial? How many will be lost to attrition in the next fiscal year?

Additionally, I would love to know how many consulting firms are engaged, how many consultants for each firm, expenditures to consultants, what role are these consultants playing, is it mission critical?

This is all routine stuff we look at in the private sector so I figure the information must be available..I just can’t seem to find it. THANKS!

While one might think this information is readily available, it is not. I have not seem any supporting evidence for the “800 jobsâ€? (sometimes “2,000”) figure, and certainly not how those positions break out. House and Senate Republicans argue that many of those “jobsâ€? are currently vacant positions which still get funding in the state budget, but there is no way to verify.

The Auditor General thinks we can achieve $50 million or so by offering early retirement incentives, and getting about 2,000 workers to retire (and not fill those positions, or hire within) and reducing the state payroll by 3-4%.

As for consultants, I don’t know of a listing statewide. The Treasurer’s new database would have all the contracts by department, but unfortunately it would take a Herculean effort to add them all up.

If anyone has, or has seen, documentation of this, it would be a great help. I will of course be filing an Open Records request to determine the current number of vacant positions, though I think this is information that should be readily available. Again, another example of why transparency is needed in the current budget debate.