State lawmakers are hoping to wrap up work on next year’s state budget within the next week and conclude the 2008 legislative session.
But neither of the two lawmakers who lead the committees charged with drafting the state budget know how many state employees are on the payroll. During this past weekend’s “Iowa Press” program on Iowa Public Television, Representative Jo Oldson and Senator Bob Dvorsky were asked the question. “Representative Oldson, how many state employees are there?” Radio Iowa’s O. Kay Henderson asked.
“Oh, my,” Representative Oldson said. “To be honest, I’m not sure Kay I can give you an exact number. I don’t know the exact number. Several thousand and they are spread across the state doing all sorts of things from keeping our corrections facilities safe to taking care of children and families — thousands of state employees.”
“Well, Senator Dvorsky, do you know?” Henderson asked.
“I think it’s like 150,000. It depends on whether you count Regents or who you count,” Dvorsky said. “There’s lots of state agencies that may be state employees or not quite state employees.”
“Isn’t that something you should know?” Henderson asked. “If one asked the C.F.O. of a company…”
Dvorsky supplied the following: “It’s like 140,000.”
But according to a Legislative Services Agency “fact book” the number is far below that. The agency pegs the current number of state employees at about 48,000. A cross-check with the Department of Administrative Services confirms that is close when you consider how many people are employed in the executive, legislative and judicial branches of state government, plus all those who work at the three state universities. A list of all the salaries of state workers indicates there are as many of 75,000, but that includes folks working on contracts financed by the federal government or working on research bankrolled by businesses or the federal government.
As for how big the state budget will be for the next fiscal year which starts July 1st, Dvorsky — the senator who chairs the Senate Appropriations Committee — offered a ballpark number at the conclusion of his appearance on “Iowa Press.”
“Tell Iowans how big the budget will be in terms of cash dollars?” Henderson prompted.
Dvorsky: “An overall number of what the budget will be?”
Henderson: “I’m not trying to stump you.”
Dvorsky: “No, no, no. I’m trying to move back from a four percent increase and what we have. It’s something like is what, $6.4 billion, now? And I think we’ll wind up probably at not much more than that, $6.5 (billion) or so.”
“Iowa Press” host Dean Borg interrupted: “I’m dealing with some other numbers. It deals with time. We’re out of it. Saved by the bell, perhaps.”