Austerity for thee, but not for me. Via the DMN, Audit: Texas governor, AG, land commissioner boosted staffs as state workers’ overall numbers shrank.
As the state’s workforce in areas such as education and protective services was shrinking last year, some agencies led by elected officeholders were growing.
Texas agencies shed about 3,200 workers in the fiscal year that ended Aug. 31, a reduction of about 2.1 percent, a new report from the state’s auditor shows. But the governor’s office, the attorney general’s office and the general land office — each run by a Republican elected while touting the virtues of shrinking government — added workers.
Aides to Gov. Rick Perry, Attorney General Greg Abbott and Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson stressed Tuesday that each remains below hiring maximums set by the Legislature.
That’s right do as I say, not as I do. There’s more.
Former state District Judge Scott McCown of Austin, who runs the Center for Public Policy Priorities, a progressive think tank, said he doesn’t begrudge successes by Perry, Abbott and Patterson at getting a few more employees.
“They needed more staff and had the clout to get them, while human service agencies had the need, but not the clout,” McCown said. [Emphasis added]
“You can’t achieve the same efficiencies in public services as in many businesses because the job is fundamentally different,” he said. “You can’t eliminate staff and more efficiently remove a child from an abusive home. Someone has to walk that child out the door hand in hand.”
The Department of Family and Protective Services, which includes Child Protective Services, lost 112 employees last year, a decrease of 1 percent. CPS is struggling to retain caseworkers and has had to pull workers from Dallas and Houston to manpower-shortage areas such as Austin and Midland.
Other major departments absorbed much bigger reductions, including the Texas Education Agency (down 24 percent), the Juvenile Justice Department (13 percent), Parks and Wildlife (5 percent) and the Department of Aging and Disability Services (4 percent), Keel’s audit shows.
Gary Anderson, president of the Texas Public Employee Association, said lawmakers and the governor “have absolute control” over general state government but not over public universities, colleges and school districts, which have other sources of income than the state.
Agencies for the most part “continue to meet the mission,” even with fewer hands, said Anderson, whose group calls itself the oldest and largest state employee group and not a union. “There are some problem areas,” he said, citing the prison system’s inability to retain guards, especially in the booming oilfields of South Texas, where they can easily double their salaries.
It’s pretty clear that these three “small government conservatives” only want everyone else’s agency to go through austerity. As Kuff points out today, they’ve had no problem taking in out on public educaiton, Eight billion dollars.
That’s how much is needed per year to make public education whole.
All this came from direct testimony – the state had not had the chance to cross-examine Moak as of the writing of those stories – so there will likely be more of these depressing numbers to come. The Moak, Casey website is a pretty good resource for following the trial on a blow-by-blow basis. Here’s an interesting tidbit from their embedded Twitter feed: “Moak: from 10-11 to 11-12 school year, 26.5k fewer teachers and staff while Texas schools added 44.5k students #schoolfinancetrial #txlege”. With numbers like that, what happened next should not surprise us.
Hypocrisy, thy name is Perry, Abbott, Patterson.