OUR OPINION: Detailed accounting of state job cuts needed

Not again. In his State of the State address Wednesday, Gov. Jay Nixon announced an additional, unspecified 800 job cuts for state employees.

“I’ll have cut state payroll by over 3,300 positions,” he said, proclaiming the magnitude of job decimation in state government. That’s a lot of unemployment for a governor whose oft-repeated theme throughout his address was “fighting every day, for every job.” Obviously, he isn’t fighting for state workers.

We have no quarrel with judicious cuts, characterized by Nixon in his speech as “a leaner workforce ... doing more with less.” We do quarrel, however, with the vague, generic — almost cavalier — announcement, which creates a chilling effect on our local economy.

State government is Jefferson City’s single largest employer. When the governor threatens job cuts, state employees justifiably become worried. As a consequence, they rein in spending and the local economic engine sputters.

This is not the first time we’ve called attention to this pattern and this problem.

In a June 2010 editorial titled “In search of elusive state job cuts,” we wrote: “We wonder, but have not yet determined, how many eliminated state jobs are not linked to people. How many were vacant, or will be vacated through attrition or retirement?”

We pose those same questions in connection with the 800 job cuts announced last week.

In his address, the Nixon acknowledged “times are tough,” but said, “our best days lie ahead.”

And, on the same evening as the governor’s speech, our area Chamber of Commerce unveiled its strategic plan for future economic development. At the unveiling, the chamber’s consultant told the community “‘good enough’ really isn’t good enough.”

Similarly, Nixon’s announcement of unspecified job cuts isn’t good enough. It isn’t good for the morale of state employees and it isn’t good for the local economy.

We reiterate our conclusion of more than six months ago. A detailed accounting of state job cuts must be forthcoming.

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