California Budget: The slashing of state agencies begins

Slash GovA legislative budget committee voted unanimously Wednesday to eliminate state agencies altogether, taking dead aim at an administrative layer of gubernatorial bureaucracy that oversees most of the state’s departments.

The 10-member panel — six Democrats and four Republicans — also voted to eliminate the Office of the Secretary of Education, which lawmakers said is unnecessary because the state already has an elected Superintendent of Public Instruction and a State Board of Education.

The Governor recommended last month that lawmakers consolidate more than a dozen boards and commissions to save $50 million. Schwarzenegger also began laying off 5,000 rank-and-file state workers. The Legislature’s move Wednesday appeared to be a sharp retort directed at higher-paid administrative appointees who oversee the departments that provide direct state services.

Under the agencies move, the state would dismantle at least eight offices, from the State and Consumer Services Agency to the Environmental Protection Agency, and eliminate any duplicative administrative positions. The committee did not know how many positions would be eliminated or how much money would be saved and asked the nonpartisan Legislative Analyst’s Office to report to the Legislature on how far the Legislature could cut.

Schwarzenegger told lawmakers Tuesday that they should eliminate the Integrated Waste Management Board as a first matter of course before making any other cuts. The board would save the state no general fund dollars, but it has become an easy target because it contains ex-legislators who earn six-figure salaries while serving on the board.

The budget conference committee on Tuesday instead recommended that the state eliminate the Department of Conservation and the Department of Toxics Control while moving their functions to the Integrated Waste Management Board (IMWB). The committee also recommended that the IWMB members become part-time and take reduced pay.

“Every year, the governor tries to eliminate and consolidate a number of boards, commissions and departments, and every year the Legislature rejects that,” said Schwarzenegger press secretary Aaron McLear. “We’re thrilled the Legislature is joining the governor’s call to make government more efficient and cost effective and we look forward to debating with the Legislature in the coming days which proposals make the most sense.”

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