Bill Allows State Directors to Bypass Personnel Board - - Jackson, MS

Jackson 2/12/08

Bill Allows State Directors to Bypass Personnel Board

by Jon Kalahar


A senate bill passed today gives authority to state agency directors to bypass the state personnel board.

As a result, Governor Haley Barbour says state government will be run more like a business and taxpayers' money will be saved.

But it could also mean some state employees will be out of work.

"How many do you have standing around doing nothing. I don't know, I don't know. You don't have the facts."

The debate on the senate floor wasn't always cordial over a bill to allow state agencies to bypass the state personnel board.

"We're not here to employ people. We are here to provide a service to the taxpayers out there and we need to be doing it as lean and as mean to get that service out there," said Senator Terry Brown, (R) Columbus.

In years past, both the state department of corrections and state department of agriculture and commerce were allowed by the legislature to do this. Corrections was able to reorganize and save taxpayers almost 15 million dollars in 2004. Since it's re-organization 1996, Agriculture and Commerce has seen massive changes...reducing personnel by a third.

"We've cross trained people to do more than just one job, we've used new technology that's available today. So often you would hear, this is the way we've always done it, but it served no useful purpose," said Agriculture Commissioner Lester Spell.

And that's the reasoning behind this bill, if a job or employee is no longer useful they will be cut to save money. 25 agencies are onboard with the bill including: the departments of corrections, finance and administration, public safety, education, health, state auditor's office, and state treasurer's office.

"There's not an agency here in state government that couldn't save some money if we'll let them if we give them the flexibility to let them save money and operate efficiently," said Governor Barbour.

Still, the test will come in the state house of representatives to see if this legislation has a chance.

"It probably will save some money, but the reason we have the state employees under the state personnel board if for job protection and to make sure their careers are protected and keep away from any political interference," said George Flaggs, (D) Vicksburg.

The senate passed the bill after three hours of debate 28 to 22.

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