In Under the Dome today, Gov Perdue is quoted as saying that personnel managers across state government should prepare for layoffs. She doesn't yet anticipate any, but wants folks to be prepared. I understand her directive, and it is always good policy to be prepared, but layoffs should be off the table in this budget crisis.
"I want everybody to be prepared," Perdue told reporters afterwards. "I do not anticipate RIFs or layoffs or even four-day work weeks. But I think it does us all justice to be prepared as the economy softens. This is not a paper exercise we are about. Tough decisons are going to be made."
I think its important first of all that she says that she does not anticipate any layoffs or cut back in hours. As a self described "old hand" at the budget process the Governor has a pretty darn good understanding of the whole process, not just what saves money, but also what doesnt, and what the time frames are for saving.
Consequently, the Governor should know that layoffs right now are not going to help. When people have jobs they pay taxes their children are cared for and provided for. When people don't have jobs they are forced to rely on help from others, including unemployment, subsidies and often retraining. At a time when the medicare rolls are expanding, community college enrollment has shot up and we are going to need every penny of the stimulus bill and more to close those gaps, can we really afford to put even more of a burden on our state services?
I know the Governor is simply being prudent, and I appreciate that. But at a time when nothing can be taken off the table, can we at least get a promise that cuts which will cause us more short term and long term financial problems will be taken off the table?