State plan on saving looking good

Published 8:22 pm Thursday, December 27, 2012

A Thursday announcement by Alabama Governor Robert Bentley has given residents an end-of-the-year update on the Road to a Billion Dollars in Savings, the state’s long-term effort to identify greater efficiencies and cost savings in government.

More than $750 million in current and projected annual savings have now been identified — up from $674 million in savings that had been identified when the plan was first announced in July. The additional savings come through measures such as bond refinancings, contract renegotiations and workforce right-sizing.

“I am committed to an efficient state government, and we’re making great progress in saving taxpayers a billion dollars a year,” Bentley said.  “The people of Alabama deserve a government that makes wise use of taxpayer dollars, and that’s what we’re giving them.  I am confident we will reach our goal of identifying a billion dollars in average annual savings by the end of this term.”

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The additional savings, along with additional state employee retirements in recent months, are reducing the immediate need for a proposed voluntary retirement incentive program.  Governor Bentley is asking legislative sponsors of the voluntary retirement incentive program to withhold introduction of the legislation until further notice.

“One of our goals is to right-size the state government’s workforce while saving taxpayer dollars,” Bentley said. “We are already accomplishing that goal as more people have chosen to go ahead and retire before the incentive could be discussed in the Legislature. That means we are getting the right-sizing accomplished without having to pay the cash bonuses called for in the retirement incentive legislation. If attrition continues at recent levels, we can achieve significant savings without the need for the legislation. While I am asking legislative leaders to delay introducing the voluntary retirement incentive plan for now, we could consider such a plan as an additional option if needed for future savings. However, at this point, it appears we will be able to reach our savings goals through regular attrition and other cost-saving measures.”

The current and projected savings from the Road to a Billion Dollars in Savings will benefit both the Education Trust Fund and the General Fund budgets.