In California, Gov. Schwartzeneger is contemplating forcing state employees to take a de facto pay cut, by requiring them to take a certain amount of pay without leave. Laying off employees is also being considered. I understand that there are shortfalls, but I wonder how state employees of California feel about them taking the hit because others made bad economic decisions.
I'm sure this will also come to Utah. The past several years, with budget surpluses and a booming economy, our legislature has cut taxes, primarily to the well to do, but not entirely, also reducing the sales tax on food. When revenues are down, does the legislature restore the old tax structure, or do they decide to put the burden of the economic downturn upon Utah's public employees?
Let me get this out of the way first, and it is a perception I get from talking to so many conservative legislators over the years, that they consider public employees as inherently lazy, with bureaucracies that are top-heavy and inefficient, with plenty of fat that can be cut if they can be prodded through accross the board budget cuts.
I have spent some time around those in state government, and I can say unequivocably, that this perception is grossly exaggerated. My wife worked for the state for some time, and found herself overwhelmed with a caseload she couldn't possibly handle, and when there was a failure to meet all the impossible legislatively mandated requirements, that were inadequately funded, the blame never fell upon the legislature, but upon "those evil bureaucrats."
My wife works for the state, and so my position is biased. I'll admit that. But putting the full burden of budget shortfalls upon state employees, who are only trying to do their jobs the best they can seems short-sighted. Also consider, that state employees who are laid off, will take their accrued leave with them, creating a short-term cash-flow problem, increase the cost of their unemployment insurance, as well as further exacerbate our economic problems by increasing the unemployment rate and causing fewer people to be able to spend money to buy cars, houses, appliances, etc.
Utah legislators would be wise, to find solutions to their budget woes short of layoffs or reductions in the effective pay to their employees, many of whom have made sacrifices to remain in their jobs when better opportunities were available to them. Many came to believe strongly in the efficacy of the services they were providing and felt a considerable degree of job satisfaction in serving the public and making a difference in their lives.
Anyway, something to consider.