Last week at a town hall meeting in Greenwich, Republican state representatives Lile Gibbons (R-150), Livvy Floren (R-149), and Fred Camillo (R-151), and state senators L. Scott Frantz (R-36)and John McKinney (R-28) emphatically stated that the state should not raise taxes, but should instead cut its bloated state government. Livvy Floren asserted that Connecticut's state government employs more workers per capita than any other state in the nation. Senator L. Scott Frantz backed her up, asserting that there were "multiple sources" for her contention. Really? Let's take a look at the facts, shall we?
According to data in the U.S. Census Bureau's 2009 Statistical Abstract of the United States, Connecticut employed 62,000 full-time equivalent (FTE) employees in 2006, the latest year for which it listed data. That translated into 17.8 state employees per 1,000 population. That figure ranks Connecticut not tops in the nation, but 23rd. Not even close, in other words! Furthermore, also using data from the Census Bureau's 2009 abstract, if one looks at staffing levels of municipal governments in the state, we see that all of Connecticut's municipalities together employed 126,000 FTE employees in 2006. That translates into 36.1 FTE employees per 1,000 population. And that figure ranks the Nutmeg State 38th lowest nationwide (the lower the rank, the more efficient the staffing levels, or the lower the services rendered). Again, are you paying attention Senators McKinney and Frantz? Let's keep going, shall we?
To understand the overall efficiency of a state's staffing, it is important to examine combined state and local employees. By that measure, Connecticut employed 53.9 public workers per 1,000 population in 2006. That ranks the state 29th nationally. In other words, Connecticut's state government stands a bit higher than average in terms of staffing levels, but if we look at total public sector employment at both the state and local levels, Connecticut ranks among the leanest in the country in terms of staffing. Furthermore, far from state employment metastisizing out of control, as claimed by Republicans, the same Census Bureau data shows the opposite to be the case. Analyzing Census Bureau informatin on headcount from 2000 through 2006, we see that only ten states reduced the number of their state employees. Connecticut was one of them, shrinking by 4,000 employees over that period, which ranked as one of the largest cuts in staffing of any state over that period.
Not only is Connecticut relatively efficient in terms of staffing, the same is the case for New England as a whole. As Nick Turner and E. Matthew Quigley, economic researchers for the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, concluded in their 2005 study of state and local government employment in New England:
The picture that emerges from these statistics is one of a relatively lean and competitive public sector workforce in New England. Compared with the nation, New England employs fewer public workers per capita, and the salaries of these workers represent a smaller share of the personal income of state residents. The relative mix of employment type may be partially responsible for these differences. New England employs comparatively more education workers, who earn, on average, less than non-education public employees.
Their research on state and local employment in the region showed that Connecticut ranks in the middle of the six states in terms of headcount per capita at the state level, but is fifth lowest of the six in terms of municipal employment per capita. In terms of government payroll spending, a similar picture emerges. As a percentage of per capita income in Connecticut, spending on state workers salaries ranked the state fourth of the six states in the region. Yet, local government spending as a ratio to per capita income was fifth lowest in New England. Spending on combined state and local government salaries on that measure shows Connecticut to be substantially lower than the national and regional average.
So however you slice it, the suggestion that Connecticut's state government is the most overstaffed in the nation is pure baloney.
So where are Fred Camillo, Lile Gibbons, Livvy Floren, Scott Frantz and John McKinney getting this notion of bloated staffing when it is so far from the truth? Do they really have no idea how our government works? Are they really that ignorant of the facts? Or did they simply figure that they could get away with it?
We report; you decide.