June 16, 2019

For a leaner government

During these extremely difficult economic times it is imperative that everyone look to cutting costs, lower expenses, and trim operations wherever possible. Toward that end, I co-sponsored legislation recently, “An act to reduce administrative costs of state government and to clarify previous legislative reductions in state government administration.” The bill is aimed at reducing administrative costs throughout the state government by at least 10 percent. The goal is for state agencies to identify administrative positions held by persons who administer programs or supervise personnel. This proposal recognizes that only by streamlining and restructuring state government can significant savings be achieved.

Despite five rounds of budget cutting, the state bureaucracy reamins top-heavy. When Gov. McKernan proposed laying off state employees in 1991, 65 percent of the layoffs consisted of persons making $25,000 or less, and only one person scheduled for layoff earned more than $50,000. Up to now, most laid-off state employees have been front-line or direct service personnel resulting in forestalling any reductions in the cost of running state government and effecting a decrease in services….

Tough economic times demand a lean, efficient government. Many state departments and agencies are top-heavy with too many assistants and deputies and deputy assistants whose duties could be combined and restructured. At present there are more than 500 top-level bureaucrats who earn more than $50,000 a year.

This legislation requires that each agency or department report its plan to be Appropriations Committee by Feb. 3. The committee, of which I am a member, will then determine the savings that will be achieved with a 10-percent reduction in administrative personnel.

The bill was introduced Jan. 16 after the House of Representatives voted to suspend the Rules of the House allowing introduction and floor debate without a public hearing. The bill received a unanimous bipartisan vote. However, the Senate Republicans led by Sen. Charles Webster voted against the suspension of the rules. By their action these 14 Republicans are causing a substantial delay to the whole budget review process — preventing the Appropriations Committee from receiving the information it needs in order to begin the process of reducing the administrative cost of state government.

I would then urge those 14 Republicans to rethink their positions — their actions are clearly against what their constituents want and need. Rep. Roger M. Pouliot D-Lewiston

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