in Houston, Texas
Texas state payroll shrinks, though not in higher ed or at the DMV
Thursday, Nov 01, 2012, 12:10PM CST
By Mark Lisheron
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Social services, criminal justice and education were largely responsible for reducing the state payroll by ½ a percent in the past fiscal quarter in Texas.

The reduction of 1,620 full-time positions, bringing the total down from 297,502.9 positions, was nearly offset by the addition of 1,587.6 positions in the state’s institutions of higher education, according to a new report by the state Auditor comparing employment in the previous quarter to the same period in 2011. (See a chart tracking the change here.)

While total higher education staffing increased by 1.1 percent to 148,557.9 full-time equivalencies, the number of administrators jumped by 2.4 percent over the same period a year ago to 3,023.6 positions.

The Department of Aging and Disability Services reduced its staff over a year to 16,878.8 positions. The reduction of 721.2 positions was the biggest single loss for a state agency, according to the study.

The Texas Department of Criminal Justice and Juvenile Justice Department dropped a combined 1,101.7 jobs from the end of August 2011.

The Texas Education Agency, which began laying off employees during a tough legislative session on public education in 2011, reduced staff by 226.2 to 701.6 positions, a 24.4 percent drop, the highest percentage decrease among major departmental employers.

The Texas House under Speaker Joe Straus and the Senate, headed by Lt. David Dewhurst, both conservative Republicans who have called for smaller state government, made double-digit percentage reductions, shedding more than 100 employee positions each.

It is important to note that in June through August of 2011 the Legislature was just completing a session and in the same quarter this year the Legislature had been adjourned for more than a year.

The Department of Public Safety, in the midst of a $63 million spending spree to open driver’s license megacenters across the state, brought its staffing to 8,692.8 positions by adding 347 jobs, more than any state agency.

Texas state employees


The Department of Motor Vehicles grew its staff by 151.3 positions to 730.2 positions or 26.1 percent, the highest percentage increase of any major state agency.

Governor Rick Perry, another high-profile, small government conservative, added 3.9 positions in a year, bringing his staff to 264.1 positions.

Attorney General Greg Abbott, whose staff handled a Supreme Court challenge to Obamacare that was not upheld and a Supreme Court redistricting fight this year, increased his office’s staffing by .3 percent, 13.7 positions added to a staff of 4,057.2 positions.

The General Land Office, headed by conservative Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson, who is running for lieutenant governor in 2014, boosted his staff by 20.9 positions or 3.6 percent to 600.9 positions.

However, Patterson’s agency was called on in August of 2011 to take over nearly $3 billion in federal funding that had not yet been distributed in relief for the victims of Hurricane Ike in 2008.

The Department of Rural Affairs, one of the agencies criticized for its handling of the Hurricane Ike funding, was abolished by the Legislature, a reduction of all of its 70.6 positions, the Auditor’s report says.

The other agency with Ike responsibilities, the Department of Housing and Community Affairs, lost 52.2 or 14.4 percent of its staff during the same period. Michael Gerber, the executive director of the agency, resigned at the end of August of 2011.

***
Contact Mark Lisheron at 512-299-2318 or mark@texaswatchdog.org or on Twitter at @marktxwatchdog.

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Photo of Texas state Capitol dome by flickr user victorfe places, used via a Creative Commons license.

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Comments
Whitney Brewster - Executive Director, TxDMV
Tuesday, 11/06/2012 - 09:00AM

While reading your article regarding the change in employees as reported by the State Auditor’s Office, I was concerned with your characterization of the change in the number of employees at the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles (TxDMV). As you know, numbers do not provide context. While the TxDMV did see a change in its employee counts, it was not because we added new positions to the state payroll. In January, the Legislature transferred the Oversize and Overweight Permitting Division from the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) to the TxDMV, which increased the authorized employee count by 116. There was also an offsetting reduction in positions at TxDOT. This brought the number of TxDMV employees to 730, which remains below the authorized allotment of 763 positions.

The state auditor's report is a snapshot in time as employees retire, new hires are made, and in some cases, positions are left unfilled, which can cause any agency's employee count to fluctuate every month. However, our main concern is that the story's headline and the paragraph about TxDMV leaves readers with the impression that this agency, in austere times, is costing taxpayers more money. It is not. A job function and its employees were transferred to TxDMV, raising our number of employees.

What may be of more interest to taxpayers is that for every $1 the TxDMV spends, it returns more than $10 in state revenue. Our employees are proud of the work they do and the fact their work brings in revenue to help build and maintain Texas' transportation infrastructure.

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