The Shumlin administration has asked state agencies and departments to identify up to 325 state jobs to be cut to obtain $10.8 million in labor savings.
Agency of Administration Justin Johnson made the request in a memo sent to agency secretaries and department commissioners Wednesday. The memo was first reported Thursday by Seven Days.
The administration is seeking the labor savings to help balance the 2016 fiscal year budget, which has a hole of about $113 million because revenues are rising slower than the budget’s rate of growth. Officials have asked the Vermont State Employees Association to open the union’s existing labor contract to avoid job cuts, but the union has refused to do so.
The administration is looking to nix a 2.5 percent cost of living increase that's due to state employees during the 2016 fiscal year, and hoping to slow down so-called “step increases,” which average out to about a 1.7 percent additional pay increase for state employees annually.
Because the union is unwilling to renegotiate, Johnson's memo said, job cuts are needed.
“It seems unlikely that the State’s labor contract will be reopened as part of the solution to balancing the budget. This situation leaves me with no alternative but to begin planning for a significant reduction in force across all sectors of Vermont state government to be effective July 2015, the start of the new fiscal year,” Johnson wrote in his memo.
The number of job cuts needed ranges from 150 to 325, depending on the positions. On average, the state’s general fund covers about 40 percent of the cost for each position. Each position, including salary and benefits, has an average cost of $83,000.
Johnson asked that positions be identified by March 16, and that vacant jobs be considered first.
The Agency of Human Services, the largest state agency, has been asked to achieve the most savings — more than $4.5 million. The Agencies of Natural Resources, Public Safety and Administration must identify more than $1 million in saves each.
This story was originally published by the Vermont Press Bureau and reprinted under a partnership with the bureau.