Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Study Shows Oklahoma Cut State Workers

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Study Shows Oklahoma Cut State Workers

Article excerpt

Oklahoma is one of only eight states that has reduced its number of state employees during the past four years, according to a study published in the journal State Policy Reports.

An article in the January issue shows Oklahoma's state government workforce decreased by 0.3 percent between November 1990 and November 1994.

During the same period, state government employment grew nationally by 5.1 percent, the study said.

The article appears to weaken claims by Gov. Frank Keating that state government is bloated.

Keating has said Oklahoma ranks sixth in the nation in per capita state employment. That ranking, he said, indicates state government needs to "examine its waistline."

Keating said Thursday the ranking he cites includes all public employees _ state, local and federal.

Using 1993 figures, Keating said government employment leveled among state workers and rose at the local level.

"State and local (government employment) together are rising at a greater rate than private sector employment," in Oklahoma, Keating said.

Private sector employment is important to policy makers because it provides the tax base from which services are provided, Keating said.

Keating's example occurred before last year, though, when state government employment fell by 10 percent. The Office of State Finance reports state government has 4,132 fewer workers today than it did in 1993. The statistics do not include teachers or higher education employees.

Sen. Larry Dickerson, chairman of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on General Government and Transportation, offered this explanation of why Oklahoma's per capita state employment levels have traditionally been higher than other states: Oklahoma classifies many more of its public sector workers as state rather than local government employees.

District attorneys, district judges and public health workers are classified as state employees, while many other states consider them as county personnel, the Poteau Democrat said.

Also, rural states like Oklahoma tend to need more employees per capita to cover their geographic area. …

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