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Long-term planning

We have all been reading about the reduction in state jobs. I am concerned about the long-term effect of this. Is this short-term savings really helping in the long run? Are we taking a hard look at the big picture or merely taking a quick fix approach to our state financial situation? Vermont state government is a very large organization. It is governed by a board of directors who are the 180 members called the general assembly. Its CEO is the governor. Our state has 8,500 employees, functions in a dozen major departments and many smaller ones. Its mission is supported by $1.2 billion in state revenues. $1.3 billion in federal revenues are funneled through its agencies and departments. $920 million in property tax revenues support the education of our children. In addition, it has the responsibility to oversee 249 other organizations such as Vermonts county and municipal governments, which are supported by yet an additional $350 million in property tax revenue. No private organization of this size and scope would function for long without a long- range plan for directing its mission, without a strategy that is updated regularly to respond to fluctuations in revenue and without tools in place to insure that the objectives of the organization are measured and evaluated on their effectiveness and efficiency; neither should the State of Vermont. This past legislative session provided ample testimony to the disruption that can happen without such long-term planning. There was concern that a plan by the governor to shrink the state government workforce by 400 positions would, without a long-range view, threaten to disrupt the service that Vermonters expect from their state agencies. The consequences to Vermonters could be very real. I am concerned that out of the first 150 of these cuts, 50 of the positions have been reassigned to others. This is just a small example of the situation we have before us. In response, the legislature created a Vermont Joint Legislative Government Accountability Committee to recommend strategies and tools that will help all branches of state government be able to deliver services to Vermonters in an effective and cost efficient way. The work of this group could make a real difference in the operation of state government, helping it to adapt to the planning, tools, strategies and measures of accountability that have proven their effectiveness in the private sector. As always, please be in touch. I can be reached at 802-985-8515 or at jglenes@aol.com. I look forward to seeing you around town.

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