Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Perdue planning government reorganization

Gov. Bev Perdue will announce next month what could be the most important initiative of her governorship: a merger, consolidation and maybe elimination of state programs and possibly agencies, too. Dome reports she made remarks about the coming reorganization at the end of Tuesday's Council of State meeting, though it was not exactly a stunner. She has previously talked about the need for such a reorganization to deal with a projected budget deficit of as much as $4 billion next year, when federal stimulus funds are no longer available to help tide the state over.

Perdue is absolutely right about the need to reorganize state government. In a period of growing demands for basic services such as education, health care and public safety, and a weak recovery from the recent recession, ends no longer meet.  Perdue is promising "a big announcement" and her spokesperson, Chrissy pearson, notes that this is an opportunity to "transform state government."

Both political parties and the broad-based middle ought to embrace such a transformation -- but also concentrate on avoiding hurting those who need help the most while making hard decisions that would cut programs or agencies that have served a public purpose in the past but no longer can be regarded as critical to our future.  While everyone has their least favorite agencies or programs that they'd get rid of in a minute if they had the opportunity, the fact is that they exist because either legislators or other elected or appointed officials saw a need and got enough of a consensus to create them.

Perdue should think boldly about what state government should look like and offer a comprehensive vision for how agencies might work together.  It may be far too much to hope for, given the public's opposition to losing what they perceive as an opportunity to vote even for judgeships whose occupants many do not know the names of, but a wholesale revision of the Council of State itself also ought to be under a spotlight.  Do we really need separate elected constitutional offices to supervise and regulate insurance, agriculture and labor? Should there be a separate superintendent of public instruction or an elected secretary of state, for example? There are arguments for and against all these offices, but getting a constitutional revision on the ballot next year may be beyond reach.

It's also worth nothing that it's possible to reorganize widely without saving a lot of money, if programs and agencies are merely reshuffled. To save money, Perdue is going to have to recommend ending or sharply cutting spending in a lot of places.   She'll find, as have other governors who have pushed for reorganization -- including Gov. Bob Scott in his landmark reorganization four decades ago -- that a lot of folks will come out of the woodwork to argue for keeping a program that doesn't seem to be all that essential.  That's all the more reason for Perdue to work hard on this, take the broadest view of what we need to end up with and seek allies across the board. This is important work, and she needs all the help she can find.


Anonymous said...

"The Dumpling" will cut the "Arts". Her crowd thinks they can get away with that one.

Anonymous said...

oh please oh please oh please reorganize the silly DOT system during this process.

Anonymous said...


She merged that school lottery money right into some department that gives away money to those who won't work.

Seriously, $35 million wasn't going to make much difference. But it is an indication how fearless she might be.

My recommendation is she make each state employee reapply for his job. That would include a recheck of resume and credentials, drug test, if state/federal/property taxes are current and status of child support payments. That would get a 10% reduction in wages.

Anonymous said...

My take on this is that if the Repubs win the a lot of offices we anticipate they will she will try and "merge" those positions as duplicate of another, in other words, merge city and county governments. Watcha bet?

So why is she waiting until AFTER the elections to do this?

If DEMS win out then this re-org will not happen or be minimal at best....