Republican gubernatorial hopeful Karen Handel said Thursday that thousands of state employees should be laid off to help make up a potential $1 billion budget shortfall for 2011.
Handel, speaking to reporters in an impromptu news conference on press hall across the street from the Capitol, Handel said her plan would save $404 million for fiscal year 2011, which begins July 1.
Handel, a former Republican secretary of state running in a seven-way primary for the GOP nomination as governor, did not have a detailed plan for finding the other $600 million in necessary cuts that lawmakers are now struggling with, but said raising taxes is the wrong idea. She said her plan is about a structural change to state government.
“No one likes or relishes the ideas of layoffs,” she said. “That said, we’ve been entrusted with taxpayer funds. Hhow could you continue to look at state government as a jobs program rather than an entity charged with delivering limited yet key services in a cost effective way?”
Handel said her plan would protect teachers and law enforcement positions.
Shortly after Handel’s appearance, state Rep. Austin Scott (R-Tifton), another Republican challenger and a member of the House budget-writing committee, said layoffs are likely unavoidable, but said entire agencies are likely to be eliminated as well.
“It makes more sense to eliminate what is a non-core function of government than it does to reduce 10 percent of the workforce from what is a core function of government,” Scott said, adding that it’s well known that state jobs are likely to be lost.
“It’s no secret in the hallways over here that we’re talking about eliminating some positions.”