150 OF THE 238 COST CUTTING MEASURES TO BE IMPLEMENTED; STREAMLINING CHIEF, SENATOR JACK DONAHUE, PLEASED WITH INITIAL SAVINGS, BUT CLAIMS MORE CAN BE DONE
MANDEVILLE, LA. – Senator Jack Donahue (R – Mandeville), as Chairman of the state’s Streamlining Commission, today rated the inaugural efforts of the commission as “successful, but not complete,” and he issued a challenge to state agencies when he noted “… there’s more we can and must save.”
Donahue was named Chairman of the Louisiana Commission on Streamlining Government in August 2009. He led the 10-member commission on a four-month analysis of state spending. The commission offered 238 streamlining recommendations, and began enacting some of the plans during the recent session of the legislature. One hundred twelve of the recommended cost-saving measures have either been adopted by the administration or are near implementation. An additional 38 were approved by the legislature.
Said Donahue, “We are proud of the initial effort toward cost cutting and stronger spending controls. By implementing savings from more than half of the recommended measures, the legislature and administration are proving that we will work toward the common goal of making Louisiana more accountable on spending.”
According to commission member and State Treasurer John Kennedy, Louisiana is facing a $2 billion shortfall in revenue through fiscal year 2012. Without the corrective actions of the streamlining commission and the legislature, the state would face a significant funding gap.
In October 2009, Donahue noted that the state must reduce spending. “There is no doubt that we are going to have to reduce state spending, not only to deal with our short-term budget limitations, but also to move toward a more prudent and focused use of taxpayers’ dollars,” Donahue told his commission members.
The Division of Administration agreed to reduce the total number of state-owned automobiles to 2004 levels over a 12-month period and to hold department heads accountable for poor safety performance by department employees. Commissioner of Administration Paul Rainwater released data earlier this week showing the state's vehicle fleet has been reduced by 1,000 cars and trucks since Governor Jindal's administration began its reduction efforts. Vehicles in the fleet now number 11,739, the smallest fleet since June 2004. The state has also been auctioning vehicles; almost 900 have been sold, generating almost $1.8 million.
The Department of Economic Development made several cuts initiated by the commission including: reducing the site-specific fund, scaling back the Louisiana Teacher Assistance and Assessment Program (LaTAAP), eliminating the workforce grant program in the department as the Louisiana Fast Start program is operational, and reducing the Entertainment Workforce Program.
The Department of Education is reducing spending by cancelling 10% of current contracts, restructuring teacher pay to provide incentives for education graduates to seek secondary education positions, and terminating the pre-GED (Graduate Equivalency Diploma) Skills Options Program and getting local education agencies to fund the program.
Two of the more notable cuts to reduce the cost of state government are Senate Bill 293, Act 1000 (Donahue), which strategically eliminates 5% of the positions in each government agency each year for three years; and Senate Bill 299, Act 1001 (Donahue), which allows the legislature to review fees charged by the State to determine if the fees are generating funding in direct proportion to expenditures associated with such activity.
The 5% cut by each agency could save as much as $750 million in three years. And, according to a study by the Mercatus Center of George Mason University, eliminating some unwarranted fees could save as much as $180 million.
Said Donahue, “This commission must continue its efforts to reduce state spending and bring smart, cost-saving plans to the legislature. Some of our state’s agencies were created several decades ago, and have never undergone a comprehensive needs and spending analysis. That is changing. Government efficiencies, economies of scale, and a thorough review of services and spending must streamline government so that Louisiana can operate effectively within a reasonable budget.”