The state’s top officials have nixed the idea of paying to send over a dozen Department of Economic Development employees to an out-of-state conference. Department of Economic Development administrators asked the State’s Executive Council to let fifteen D-E-D workers go to Missouri for a three-day conference. The conference attracts officials from other states who administer federal housing programs, and D-E-D administrators say it’s invaluable to be able to talk face-to-face with others who do the same work elsewhere. But the Executive Council voted to let just three workers go. State Ag Secretary Patty Judge, a member of the Executive Council, says the travel expense isn’t the issue, it’s the people time. She says during tight budget times when workers are being laid-off and furloughed, 15 workers from one agency can’t be gone at the same time. Judge says her department isn’t making such huge travel requests.Judge says travel’s been nearly eliminated, but when there is an important meeting, no more than two Ag Department employees may go.State Treasurer Michael Fitzgerald was the only Council member to support the D-E-D’s request. He says the 15 workers were going to carpool for the three-hour drive and were going to double-up in hotel rooms, so the cost per person was under 300-bucks. Fitzgerald says travel to other more expensive and exotic locations should be cut instead.
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