Dear Governor Paterson:
I read today that you are moving ahead with your ill advised scheme to layoff state employees. I received this through the usual channels. It was given to PEF by a reporter.
Since the Early Retirement Incentive (ERI) process began earlier this year PEF has sought official numbers from your Division of Budget with no success. Budget has refused to respond to requests via e-mail or phone call. Yet, the press has been provided on a regular basis with updates from budget’s press office. So, it appears, this is the only way to communicate with your administration.
I have several questions and concerns about your cavalier use of the term “layoff.” First, given (1) Comptroller Dinapoli’s recent report that costs for state operations, including General State Charges, is down nearly $600 million and this is before full implementation of the ERI and (2) that you keep claiming you need to save $250 million why do you continue to claim you need to achieve savings in state operations?
Second, how do you plan to accomplish the work not being done by the more than 5,000 state employees leaving via the ERI? The people of New York expect that you will actually save money by reducing the work force yet if you intend on hiring costly contractors or are forced to use additional overtime where are the savings? I understand you attempted some humor about the loss of services, but for many New Yorkers this is serious and they deserve a serious answer not some cavalier comment about snow being plowed.
Third, why did you allow agencies to fail to fully implement the ERI? I see that you have again targeted the Department of Corrections even though your Division of Budget approved only 77 Part A early retirements. Why? Why was 77 acceptable in August, but in October there is the need for more? Some agencies only offered the ERI to the most senior person in the title and work location and if that person refused the offer the agency stopped even though there was a willing person lower on the seniority roster. You refused to allow non-general fund agencies to offer the incentive thereby creating vacancies for generally fund items to move into so you could achieve the savings. If the ERI failed it was because you failed to properly implement it.
Finally, you claim you need an additional 898 employee reduction to achieve your $250 million savings that has already been achieved. Will this be done in only agencies funded through the General Fund as was the implementation of the ERI? If not, then why did you so limit the offering of the ERI? If yes, given that the Department of Correctional Services, Division of State Police, Division of Parole and the Department of Taxation and Finance make up 74 percent of the generally funded agencies under Executive Control; will they make up 74 percent of the 898 employee reduction? If not, will the other 26 percent have to absorb this reduction? If so, which of these smaller agencies do you intend to shut down?
You see Governor, once you answer those questions we will all have a better idea about where we are going and whether or not you have actually thought this through or are just being vindictive and damn the consequences. Certainly you are aware that the word “layoff” strikes fear in the hearts of many state workers. I assume that is your intent and if it is you should be ashamed. The 58,000 members I represent deserve better from their Governor. They come in every day and give their all for the citizens of New York State. There are 11,500 fewer state workers now than in 2008 so my members are working harder than ever. To threaten them with layoffs to close a budget gap, that they did not cause and are not contributing to, is revolting.
I look forward to your response and assume you will respond through the usual channels so I will keep checking the papers and the blogs.