States facing tough times during budget crisis are streamlining and reorganizing operation
States facing tough times are eliminating commissions, merging departments and centralizing operations to stave off budget cuts and tax hikes. The moves represent the most sweeping attempts in at least a generation to cut waste in the day-to-day operations of state government, according to government experts.
“The budget crisis is so severe that it’s now possible to do some things that everyone knew were smart but couldn’t get done because of political considerations,” says John Thomasian, director of the Center for Best Practices at the National Governors Association.
Helping the effort: a flurry of newly created consulting panels to tell elected officials how government can operate more like a business. Florida, Georgia, Iowa, New Jersey, New York and Nevada are among about a dozen states using the panels.
The Florida panel estimated a savings of more than $3 billion next year if all 87 of its recommendations, including renegotiating contracts, were enacted.
Efficiency steps completed last week:
• Iowa. A new law will centralize purchasing and information technology, eliminate 13 boards and trim middle management. Total savings: $127 million a year.
• Missouri. Gov. Jay Nixon, a Democrat, said he will stop giving state workers the day after Thanksgiving off and ask the Legislature to end Harry Truman’s birthday as a holiday. Each day costs taxpayers $1.2 million.
• Michigan. The state combined 10 finance authorities that had power to borrow into one to streamline debt issuance and reduce workload. Michigan estimates that it has saved more than $3 billion in recent years by eliminating more than 300 boards and reducing the governor’s Cabinet.
• Indiana. The state will merge the administration of its two big pension funds. Estimated savings: About $10 million in the first year alone.
Jason Mercier of the Center for Government Reform says efforts to reduce boards “is a step in the right direction. But it’s not the type of reform that gets you the savings you need to balance a budget.”
Via USA Today