Oregon Mulls Unfilled Positions as Budget Tool

Thursday, 03 Mar 2011 11:06 AM

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An Oregon Republican lawmaker wants to change how the state accounts for long-term vacancies at public agencies so unfilled positions are not used to bolster budgets, the Oregonian reported Thursday.

The state had 4,475 vacant positions as of Jan. 31, or about 11 percent of the budgeted workforce, not including seasonal positions.

oregon, vacant public positions"I believe Oregon's current budget system allows agencies to use unfilled vacancies as slush funds that can be used for other purposes," state Rep. Gene Whisnant, a Sunriver Republican, told the newspaper.

That amounts to real money. So Whisnant is spearheading the push to eliminate all open positions after six months being left vacant if there isn’t a good reason to keep them. The state House General Government Committee holds a hearing on a bill he’s sponsoring today.

Whisnant said some agencies use the vacant spots as a way to add to their budgets. Last year, many agencies used vacant positions to cushion against budget cuts.

If the agencies don't need the workers, he said, they shouldn't be in the budget in the first place. "If we're really going to make cuts, we have to address this situation," he said.

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