State Treasurer Timothy P. Cahill, a former Democrat running as an independent, issued a statement saying, “We have yet to see costs brought down in state payroll because there have been very few if any reductions in the state workforce,” and called the Patrick administration figures “phantom numbers.”
But the numbers Cahill’s campaign used to buttress his argument are problematic, at best. Citing data from the payroll that his office processes, Cahill said the state biweekly payroll has increased about 15 percent since Patrick took office, and he pointed to information on the Patrick administration’s own Labor and Workforce Development website to claim the number of state employees has increased since Patrick took office to 123,100 people employed in “state government” as of March.
The jobs data, however, is not based on actual state payroll numbers or even jobs in state government, according to Alison Harris, a spokeswoman for the labor agency. It is an estimate based on a statistical sample and includes part-time jobs and positions in what she called a “wide spectrum of public sector agencies” that extends beyond state government to independent authorities.
Actual state payroll numbers appear regularly in the official statements of state bond offerings, which Cahill, as treasurer, signs off on. The office of state comptroller periodically updates the tally of employees on its website. There are currently the equivalent of about 84,000 full-time state employees, nearly a third fewer than the figure Cahill touted.
Cahill, in short, is making shit up.
Also very interesting is the story’s comparisons to two recent governors, both of whom were Republicans. This appears at the top of the story:
Virtually all of Patrick’s reductions have been made in the past year, however, and thus far have not been as deep as prior rounds of payroll slashing in recessions by William F. Weld in the early 1990s and Mitt Romney in 2003 and 2004. In Romney’s case, most of the jobs were restored as the economy improved.
No surprise there. Patrick, after all, is a Democrat, and I for one would be disappointed to learn that he was running things the way a Republican would. And later in the story, the details come out:
Weld and Romney both initiated early retirement incentive programs. That saved money in the short term but resulted in significantly higher costs in enhanced pension benefits over the next 15 years, Gonzalez said.
Weld slashed about 8,000 state jobs in his first term in office, and Romney cut about 4,000 in his first 18 months before nearly all of the jobs were restored as the economy rebounded. Most of the Weld job cuts were in the sprawling health and human services secretariat, as the administration contracted out many services to private-sector companies.
Aha. So Romney cut jobs when times were tough, but restored them all later, for a net change of roughly zero. And Weld eliminated jobs by privatizing human services. And both of them shifted employees onto the rolls of the already overburdened pension system.
In short, neither of them did anything that one would expect from a responsible Democratic governor.
Kudos to Brian Mooney for a superb article. And kudos to the Patrick administration, whose claims have been vindicated, and whose management of the worst financial crisis since 1929 is looking better and better.