Rearranging the Deck Chairs on Leonardo’s Ship
It is a minor irritation to write or hear that cliche. It is a bigger irritation to watch someone carry it out.
At a press conference today, House Finance Chairman Steven Costantino announced a plan to consolidate five state agencies into one.
In a statement issued moments before his press conference was to get under way, Costantino said his bill would by Oct. 1, 2008, eliminate the separate Department of Children, Youth and Families; the Department of Mental Health, Retardation and Hospitals; the Department of Health; the Department of Human Services, and the Department of Elderly Affairs. …
Under Costantino’s proposal, each of these agencies would be replaced with a new “division’’ within the new super-agency for “children and family services,’’ “behavioral health,’’ “developmental disabilities,’’ “public health, ’’ “elderly and long-term care.’’ Added to these familiar rubrics would be a brand-new “division of veterans affairs,’’ for which veterans’ advocates have long lobbied.
How will this save the state money?
” …the change would result in cost savings for the state, since administrative functions would be consolidated and health and human services would be better coordinated.’’
Can we get a dollar figure on savings?
[Costantino] has not yet pinpointed how much he believed the state might save by “centralizing’’ legal services, purchasing, personnel, licenture and regulation and other back office functions, including the administration of the huge Medicaid program by “one department-wide office.’’
But he suggested the effort “would represent a major opportunity to cut administrative costs, achieve greater economies of scale and make the system as a whole more client-centered.’’
Look, everything is on the table. No suggestion for addressing the state’s serious fiscal problems can be disregarded. And though this situation is entirely of their making, a tiny part of me pities the General Assembly for what they have to do.
But unless “consolidation” is a euphemism for the laying off of 4,500 state workers, it is difficult to see how savings from Chairman Costantino’s proposal will hit eight figures, never mind come close to the projected $450,000,000 shortfall.