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Cutting the fat in Montgomery: State employees feeling cuts

By By BETH ANDERSON – BNI News service
In his attempt to mend the half-billion dollar hole in the state's general fund, Gov. Bob Riley has lowered the ax on state agencies, slicing nearly $240 million from the general fund.
But what the Riley administration is calling sound business strategies, state officials are calling an attack on state employees and ultimately taxpayers.
Since Riley began his tenure as governor, he has announced an indefinite 5 percent freeze on merit raises for state employees and has submitted a budget with 5 percent personnel cuts for each state agency coupled with a 18.85 percent across-the-board reduction for most state agencies. His plan also includes a reduction on travel per diem and a return of all state-assigned vehicles.
While McArthur is hoping the gov
ernor will reverse his cuts, Riley spokesman David Azbell said more are on the way.
Azbell also pointed out that every state employee received an automatic 3 percent Legislature approved pay hike despite a bleak fiscal outlook. Without the cuts, Azbell said, state employees could have received up to an 8 percent pay increase.
McArthur said not only will agencies be forced to operate under depleted personnel and revenue, but eventually, offices taxpayers depend on, such as state trooper posts and license examiners will have to close.
McArthur said he has seen the affect the cuts have taken on employee morale and said some are choosing retirement over working under such a stringent budget.
Riley's cuts will also be detrimental to the state's efforts at attracting more industry, according to McArthur. He said the cuts will hamper state services such as education and public safety, which prospective industries consider when choosing a home.