Even in the best case scenario, the Department of Human Services is expected to cut 320 of its 10,000 positions and about 50 Michigan State Police troopers will remain lay off. Some strategies to reduce staff sizes have worked for other departments in the recent past; the Secretary of State, which employs about 1,400 workers, has not hired employees for any of its vacancies over the past year. This has resulted in a 20 percent downsize for the department. If wide spread staff reduction is unavoidable, union workers hope that the administration will lay off temporary, contracted workers. They also have requested that some mid-level positions see layoffs, because the bottom end employees have already seen significant reductions in staff. Unfortunately for the state, state employees do not want to tolerate any more reductions in the size of the workforce. One potential solution is an increase in furlough days this year. Six furlough days saved the state 22 million dollars this past year and under the Michigan State Employees contract, the state can impose up to 26 furlough days. However, there will be plenty of disgruntled workers if the administration decides to take full advantage of furloughs.
Governor Granholm definitely did not have any intention of reducing the size of many state departments and watching many of the state’s employees loose work when she signed the 2010 budget. In fact, the governor has taken many steps to create job opportunities for the unemployed in Michigan. However, there was simply no away around reducing the budget for this upcoming year and this will most likely be the reality that Michigan’s state government will have to face in the future. With this reality comes an even more punitive reality for the workforce of mid-Michigan. There is no easy solution to the problem, raising taxes on a population that is already facing unemployment problems will only strain Michigan’s economy even further. Without job availabilities, workers will be forced to leave Michigan to find work and with a decreased population tax revenue will diminish. Do not be surprised if in the future budget cuts result in even more dramatic job losses.