Murkowski eyes cuts to 115 state jobs

273 other jobs that may be slashed are unfilled

Posted: Wednesday, December 17, 2003

Gov. Frank Murkowski's budget plan released on Monday will cut 402 state positions next year, but state Budget Director Cheryl Frasca said the positions identified for cuts could change before the fiscal year 2005 budget kicks in.

As of Tuesday, at least 115 of the 402 positions slated for cuts were filled, according to the state Office of Budget and Management. More than half of the positions - about 273 - are currently unfilled.

"With time - because this budget won't take effect until July 1 - there's another 12 months that you have to manage your budget," Frasca said. "So it doesn't mean that the position identified today is the one that will be deleted come July 1."

Preliminary information released by the state budget office shows that some of the cuts include 133 full-time positions cut from the Department of Transportation, 126 from the Department of Health and Social Services, 73 from the Department of Corrections and 27 from both the Department of Labor and the Department of Fish and Game.

About 26 percent of the 17,286 jobs in the Juneau workforce are state government jobs, according to data from the state Department of Labor in 2001. It still is unclear how many local jobs will be cut under the proposed budget, according to state budget analysts.

Last year the Murkowski administration eliminated 370 state positions, 213 of which were vacant. Sixty-nine of those eliminated positions were a result of departmental consolidations, according to the state.

Thirty-one state employees in Juneau lost jobs last year. Anchorage lost 41, Fairbanks lost three and the rest of the state lost 13.

Those cuts did not reflect personnel cuts within the court system or the University of Alaska, Frasca said in August.

She said the job reductions are part of a two-part process for cutting the budget.

This year the state underwent a missions and measures audit of each state department to identify core services and reduce state spending.

In a press release issued with the budget proposal on Monday, Murkowski stated: "Under the direction of (the Office of Management and Budget) each department reviewed its activities and compared those activities with what the law requires and with this administration's policies. This is the first time in 27 years that this type of systematic review of the departments has been done."

The audit identified positions that have been vacant for more than a year and slated them for cuts, Frasca said.

She said some of the positions associated with lower priority programs were also part of the proposed cuts.

Frasca noted on Monday that many of the positions were shifted between departments in the 2004 budget. The Department of Administration in 2004 lost 744 positions to transfers, while the Department of Health and Social Services gained 790 positions.

"The Department of Administration has an increase of about 160 positions (this year), but that's because all those positions came from other departments as part of the human resources consolidation, so you have to look beyond this single number," Frasca said.

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