Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Cutting State Workforce Will Take Tough Choices, Says Hall

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Cutting State Workforce Will Take Tough Choices, Says Hall

Article excerpt

An analysis of a national study shows Oklahomans face some tough choices if they want to cut back on the number of state workers, an of ficial of the state employee's union says.

A study by the National Conference of State Legislatures places Oklahoma 10th in the nation in the number of state employees in proportion to the state population.

But Pat Hall, executive director of the Oklahoma Public Employees Association, says the report also shows the reasons for the high rating is not general state government.

Hall said the ""most staggering fact of the study is that state employees are so low paid compared with the rest of the nation. We rank 10th from the top in the number of employees and 10th from the bottom in pay.''

He said the report should help the state workers' case for a pay increase next year.

Steven Gold, director of fiscal affairs for the National Conference of State Legislatures, appeared last week before a state Senate committee to analyze the report.

Gold noted that the state school work force ranks 11th in the nation per capita, but the state's school-age population is the 30th lowest in the country.

Hall said the report showed Oklahoma had a high number of employees in the areas of public schools, higher education, prisons, highways and hospitals.

To a large extent, he said, that is the result of public demand.

""In the area of corrections, we have an Oklahoma mentality which says: "Lock "em up.' That may be a good mentality, but it results in a higher number of correctional employees,'' Hall said.

He continued:

""The report said we have a large number of highway workers based on our population. There are two reasons. One is we have a great demand for roads in Oklahoma because of all our rural areas. The second is we have a lot of public employees doing highway work in Oklahoma that is done by private companies in other states.

""The report said we had a large number of employees in public hospitals. …

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