Sunday, May 17, 2009

Smarter before Smaller

I'm not feeling warm and fuzzy about the last few days in Delaware. First, on Friday the Delaware Financial Advisory Council did their best to make basically encouraging revenue news sound like doomsday. The next day, the News Journal has a headline about an $800 million state deficit albeit that number does not include federal stimulus money, low balls the gaming revenue, and under estimates the bank franchise tax. Finally, on Sunday we have a front page headline, "Delaware State of Waste".

The Sunday headline article accurately describes an absolutely ludicrous policy of paying state expenses on a massive scale with credit cards, thus making our purchasing process needlessly expensive. However, the article ends with Governor Markell bemoaning the size of state government: "State government will have to be smaller next year, and it will have to be smaller the year after that, and it will have to be smaller the year after that. There's no question about it."

Well excuse me, but what has been happening with state purchasing isn't about the size of state government, it's about the smarts of state government.

According to one expert quoted in the article, if purchasing was done smarter, it might save the state between $100 million and $200 million. That is probably on the optimistic side, but let us remember that the proposed 8% salary cut is worth $91 million.

Mr. Governor, you might have looked at this situation or others before going after our salaries. You might want to audit existing practices, get your house in order, and then evaluate state services and the amount of personnel needed to deliver those services, before promising to downsize state government for the next three years.

Once again, it sounds like state workers will pay for the sins of state management.

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