Typical Legislative Budget “Cuts” on Display
“On the surface, in the toughest budget in decades, it’s hard to justify such big raises.”
That was Governor Chafee’s reaction on Monday to a series of recent Journal reports about the magnitude of the raises that have gone to legislative staffers in recent months.
Since March 2010, more than 100 General Assembly employees have gotten raises over and above the 3 percent that went to the vast majority of state employees in January. Several General Assembly employees got double-digit raises…
Yet, somehow, according to Speaker Gordon Fox, he saved money. How? Read closely:
In a statement issued by his office, Fox said his ongoing reorganization of the General Assembly’s day-to-day operation has already “resulted in savings of more than $500,000” in the legislature’s $39-million budget for this year. “I am proud of our efforts to make the legislature run more efficiently and transparently, and we will continue to try to save money going forward,” he said.
But the legislature’s overall salary costs are still going up, not down.
The lawmakers spent a total of $32.1 million, including $17.877 million on salaries alone in the year that ended June 30.
They budgeted $19.528 million for salaries this year, and then alerted the budget office they may not need that much, but will still need $19.067 million to meet this year’s payroll. For the new year that begins on July 1, they have requested $19.574 million for salaries, another $14.1 million for employee benefits, and an overall budget of $40.3 million budget, according to the state budget office.
Got that? They planned on spending $19.5 million in 2010. They only spent $19 million. They saved half a million! Well, except that’s still at least $1 million more than they spent in 2009. Same old tricks. In government, a cut is a reduction in the amount of the expected increase.