JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – Republican Governor Eric Greitens has long been a proponent of bringing more jobs to Missouri, as well as shrinking the size of government.
In today’s world, Missouri is putting a high premium on private sector jobs while looking to cut back the public sector.
In his first year in office, the Greitens administration trimmed 223 positions. His proposed budget for FY 2019 looks to further reduce the size of the government’s workforce by another 391 full-time positions.
In his State of the State address, Greitens said he was “proud to tell you that we continue to shrink the size of government. In fact, today the government of the state of Missouri is the smallest it’s been in two decades.”
That statement is true, though, as a Jefferson City News Tribune report shows, a major factor in that reduced number can be attributed to the 6,464 positions eliminated during the Blunt and Nixon administrations.
“When Blunt came into office in January 2005, the Legislature had approved a total of 61,254.55 FTE for all state operations. When Greitens became governor Jan. 9, 2017, the budget envisioned 54,790.39 FTE positions,” Bob Watson wrote in the News Tribune.
“Today, government can’t move people to where they will help the most, can’t reward people for good work, and unlike a business, it can’t get rid of poor performers who fail our citizens and fail their colleagues. We need your help to build a common sense government,” Greitens said during his State of the State address.
One of the major points on the campaign trail for Greitens was to consolidate the workforce, which would, in theory, allow more money to be spread among fewer workers, thus addressing the fact that Missouri’s state employees are the lowest paid in the nation.
Oftentimes, the Missouri Legislature allocates more in appropriations than the actual number of state employees. In the current fiscal year, they set aside funds for more than 54,000 positions, but as of Dec. 31, the Office of Administration reported a little less than 52,000 state workers.
And while Greitens’ administration continues evaluating red tape and laws in order to make things easier for businesses to operate in the Show-Me State, as well as auditing the departments, boards and commissions, the truth is that most of the positions that have been eliminated have been through the consolidating of positions and attrition.
But some would ask why Governor Greitens in October, announced that 800 Missouri National Guard jobs would be coming to the state, with Greitens saying that he had been working closely with Major General Stephen L. Danner to support and grow the Guard.
Those 800 jobs are expected to have a $15 million impact.
But that’s not necessarily the same as state workers, as the National Guard holds a sort of dual role, the only branch of the military to do so. While the National Guard may receive state funding, in most states, it is primarily funded from the federal government.
Perhaps the most effective option right now in addressing the state’s employee pay issues is Greitens’ budget proposal, which would put in place a $650 increase for state employees making less than $50,000. That, however, is contingent upon the legislature passing civil service reform. What exactly that civil service reform remains to be seen.
Benjamin Peters is a reporter for the Missouri Times and Missouri Times Magazine, and also produces the #MoLeg Podcast. He joined the Missouri Times in 2016 after working as a sports editor and TV news producer in mid-Missouri. Benjamin is a graduate of Missouri State University in Springfield. To contact Benjamin, email firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @BenjaminDPeters.