Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Governor announces plan to cut 2,000 jobs from state payroll

By THEO EMERY and COLBY SLEDGE • Staff Writer (Tennessean) • May 7, 2008 The state will trim its payroll by over two thousand state employees because of budget cuts, and hopes to avoid layoffs by offering buyout packages, Gov. Phil Bredesen said Wednesday. “We’re going to do this in a way that’s respectful of them and to try to minimize the impact on any employee,” he said. The governor said the state will try to shed a total of 2,011 jobs, which total five percent of the executive branch of government, as part of his administration’s plans for budget cutting. In all, the state needs to shed $468 million from next year’s spending plan, of which $64 million will come from job cuts, he said. The reductions come in response to sinking state revenues. The State Funding Board had estimated that the administration could have to lop over $550 million from next year’s budget; the governor chose to cut less in order to minimize the impact on jobs, he said. On Monday, the governor will present the General Assembly with budget amendments that will close out this year with a balanced budget, as well as revisions to the state budget for next year.Some of Bredesen’s policy priorities have become casualties of the budget cuts. There will be no new spending for pre-Kindergarten in the revised budget, Bredesen said. An expansion of pre-K classrooms had been a major priority for his administration.The dire budget situation also spurred Bredesen to spike a bill that would have instated a new police policy of automatically revoking licenses for motorists pulled over for drunk driving. State Finance Commissioner Dave Goetz told House members that the administration will be looking for buyouts from among the 6,000 employees with 30 or more years of service in the state, but said the state would try to make the package appeal broadly to employees. “We are having to take steps we otherwise would not want to take,” Goetz said.

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