Data from the Legislative Fiscal Bureau shows that the proposed Wisconsin state budget adds 1,777 jobs to the state government workforce as compared to the number of state jobs approved in the 2011-2013 budget. Baseline projections used for the current budget process show the Joint Finance Committee’s version of the budget, which was modified on the Assembly floor today, enacting a smaller increase in state government jobs funded through general tax revenue, segregated funds, and program revenues. Compared to Governor Scott Walker’s initial budget proposal, the JFC budget cuts 730 proposed government jobs.
Cutting proposed jobs does not equal an actual, real reduction in the number of state government workers in Wisconsin. In his first budget, Walker pushed for a bigger reduction in state government jobs than the legislature was willing to give him. At the end of the 2011-2013 budget, the Legislative Fiscal Bureau reports there were 67,466 full-time equivalent state employee positions.
The LFB report prepared before full Assembly and Senate deliberations on the new state budget asserts that the 2013-2015 budget contains authorizations for 69,243 full-time equivalent (FTE) state government jobs. The baseline used for the budget was 69,263, meaning lawmakers can boast that they reduced state government jobs compared to the baseline.
The state government jobs that are directly funded by taxpayer money, and not federal aid money to the state, program revenue or other funding, are listed as GPR FTE, or general program revenue full-time equivalent jobs. The Joint Finance Committee increased these jobs by 140 positions. It was these GPR-funded positions in particular that drew the ire of state Rep. Steve Nass, a Republican who voted against the budget today after blasting a number of flaws in the budget.
A major talking point that Republicans are touting about the budget is that in general it cuts 450 positions from across state government. But just what those positions might be and who is currently paying for them is not specified. In essence, Republicans have said they want to cut 450 positions, but they have not specified which ones and they have delayed that cut until the start of January of 2015, as the state is nearing the end of the biannual budget.
Sources inside the Capitol note that roughly 3,300 state jobs are sitting vacant, and it could be 450 of these open, vacant jobs that are targeted for removal. But if that is the case, then that would mean the reduction of 450 already-unused job openings does nothing to reduce the current size and scope of state government and its sprawling workforce of public employees.