Haslam Has Cut 1,000 State Jobs With More Cuts to Come

About 1,000 state workers have been given the ax since Gov. Bill Haslam took office in January 2011, and only a few have so far been reassigned to new positions, according to a Tennessean review of state records.
The Haslam administration’s campaign pledge to squeeze savings out of state government and improve service has resulted in plans to cut payrolls within Tennessee’s 22 departments by more than 2,200 jobs. Many of those job cuts have been coupled with promises to help displaced workers find new positions elsewhere in state government.
But the state Department of Human Resources says it has tracked only 40 completed reassignments since Haslam took office, an indication that the governor’s plan remains unfinished. Haslam’s 16 months in office have shown him to be an eager proponent for reorganizing state government — or “rightsizing” as he has called it.
His plans, which are expected to continue through the next budget year, have affected obscure offices and major facilities. Haslam has bolstered those efforts with a new law that will make it easier for managers to hire, fire and promote workers, and a 123-page review that lays out more potential changes.
The Republican governor’s embrace of tighter management is part of a national trend toward smaller government based on private-sector principles. But in capital cities such as Nashville and in small communities where government facilities are major employers, cutting government payrolls may have been a drag on job growth and slowed the recovery from a deep recession.
The shrinkage of Tennessee state government began under Haslam’s Democratic predecessor, Phil Bredesen. An average of 1,200 positions a year have been cut in the past five state budgets, lowering the total payroll from nearly 50,000 workers in 2008 to just under 44,000 by the end of the upcoming fiscal year next summer.
But despite a warning from Bredesen that further cuts would begin to remove muscle, not fat, from state government, Haslam has not slowed the pace of its shrinkage.

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