Adam’s Blog

That’s my thing, keepin’ the faith, baby. –Joe Friday

Give Us Small Government Conservatives in Boise

Posted by Adam Graham on February 15, 2007

Governor Otter is shaking things up at the Capitol:

Gov. Butch Otter says he wants to transform state government to match modern business practices. But some lawmakers are worried that he’s making major changes too quickly, and they fear cutting state jobs and privatizing state functions may not save taxpayer money or improve services.
Otter wants to dissolve the Department of Administration, which has grown over the years so it now maintains state buildings, oversees state contracts with private businesses and even negotiates the health-insurance plans for state employees.

He also wants to get rid of the Division of Human Resources, which hires state workers, oversees some training, classifies employees to set their pay scales, and keeps records on all employees.

The two changes will cut more than 90 of about 20,000 state jobs, add more responsibility to remaining state agencies, and open the door for more private businesses to contract to perform some ofthese government functions. Otter said he wants to save money, reduce state bureaucracy and improve the services the state offers.

Otter is running into folks who doubt this can be done on both sides of the aisle:

“Should this possibly be done incrementally?” Boise Republican Rep. Cliff Bayer added. “This whole transition?”

So far, the plans would privatize building maintenance, Capitol Mall groundskeeping and the state’s mail room. Plus, Otter wants his officials to explore hiring private companies to manage some state computer networks and human-resource functions.

But Idaho already knows it pays state workers less than what the open market dictates.

“How do we think we’re going to get a better bang for our buck by outsourcing into a market that is more expensive than what we pay?” Henbest asked.

Several lawmakers from both parties question whether privatizing state services really saves money. Dover GOP Rep. George Eskridge said the change can have a subtle impact, too, that is hard to quantify in a budget.

“Your employee’s loyalty is to an outside company and not to the entity you’re providing service for,” he said.

The big relief will be on all the benefits that go to State workers. It works very consistently in the private sector. While Rep. Eskridge has a concern, most private companies haven’t found a huge problem, But what’s worked in the private sector and saved cost in the private sector rarely is allowed to work for the government. If we can’t cut .45 of 1% of the payroll in a single year, than we’ve got problems. The Governor is right on this and folks need to get behind him.

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