(Chuck Muth) – An excellent Las Vegas Sun story today regarding layoffs of state workers – or, more accurately, the lack of layoffs of government workers – ought to open some eyes; even among many state legislators who usually prefer to remain blind to reality.
Here’s the “money quote” from the first paragraph of the story:
“MGM Mirage has laid off 9,000 employees during the past 18 months. General Motors has cut 13,000 hourly workers during the past year. Nevada government, in contrast, has laid off just 60 employees over the past 18 months. The state government workforce has been largely immune from pink slips since the recession began in 2007, despite Nevada having one of the largest budget shortfalls in the country.”
Some random thoughts culled from the rest of the story:
1.) Reporter David McGrath Schwartz notes that government workers for local governments are making a lot more than state workers who are doing essentially the same job “largely because state workers don’t have the collective bargaining rights their local counterparts do.” Which is (a) why collective bargaining should not be extended to state workers, and (b) why collective bargaining ought to be taken away from local government workers. The taxpayers simply can’t afford it.
2.) When it comes time to decide who gets the pink slip and who doesn’t, state law allows “senior workers (to) bump workers with less seniority, meaning managers can’t decide who gets to stay and who doesn’t.” Which means Nevada taxpayers are often forced to pay the salaries of less talented couch potatoes simply because they’ve survived (gamed) the system longer. In other words, we get less bang for more bucks. That law needs to be changed pronto.
3.) The governor says he doesn’t want to add to Nevada’s unemployment numbers. The argument is that if you lay off a government worker you’ll still have to pay them unemployment. But the amount taxpayers have to cough up to pay unemployment to a government employee is a lot less than paying their full salary (not to mention benefits). In the long run, thinning the herd of non-essential employees will save taxpayers a bundle.
4.) The story notes that some studies have indicated that Nevada, per capita, “has among the fewest government workers of any state.” False argument. Just because we may have a lower number per capita compared to other states doesn’t mean all the ones we have are essential. What it does mean is that the other states have WAY too many government employees. It doesn’t mean Nevada can’t do better by shrinking our army of government workers.
5.) Lynn Hettrick, the governor’s deputy chief of staff, noted that the Department of Motor Vehicles is already “operating on minimal staff” and it would be hard to lay off workers from that department. Not necessarily. First, we could allow private companies, especially car dealerships, to process more automobile registration transactions, thus eliminating the need for so many government workers to do so. Secondly, we could eliminate those blasted and useless smog checks. Today’s vehicles don’t pollute anywhere near the level all those old clunkers once did before computers were installed in cars to monitor this problem.
6.) Sen. Bill Raggio worries that if we eliminate certain non-essential government programs and services and lay off the non-essential government employees who provide those non-essential government programs and services, the all-powerful federal government which mandates some of those non-essential government programs and services might cut off our federal money. To which Nevada ought to respond, beginning with the ridiculously expensive and useless No Child Left Behind requirements: “Take your money and shove it.” Or words to that effect.
For suggestions of possible alternative language, please see: Declaration of Independence.