Tuesday, October 20, 2009

48 Money-Saving Ideas from House Republicans

House Republicans earlier this afternoon held a news conference to announce 48 ways the executive branch could save money -- without relying on legislation.

Some are pretty sweeping ("Ask all agencies to cut operations by 20% but improve productivity by 10%") while some speak to waste I never realized was a problem ("No more mailing of single 8.5 x 11 sheets in a 10 x 13 envelope. Fold! Fold! Fold!")

Several are clearly tweaking Gov. Bill Richardson. (reduce exempt employees , sell the state debt, and "Suspend executive agency trade missions, out of state conferences, or trips to chat with CEOs. Use phone conferencing and webinar as a replacement," etc.)

And there's one that truly surprised me: Early release for non-violent prisoners within three months of their release. That idea was floated during Richardson's first year in office to ease prison crowding, but nobody in power seemed to like it and Richardson eventually decided against it.

I tried to unscramble a few examples of alphabet soup here. But I've got to plead ignorance to some acronyms used here. (Guess I didn't do very well on my NMSBA and NMHSCE tests.)

Here's the list of ideas

1. Pull back appropriations for all unfilled (full-time employee positions.)

2. Suspend compliance requirements in all agencies unable to respond fully to filling within 14 days.

3. For students who are a discipline problem in school, or who choose to leave school, provide mandatory supervised community service work in city, county and state maintenance programs (especially parks) where facilities will be neglected as a result of cuts. Provide exemption for academic credit and access to GED materials.

4. Repeal the pit rule. Implement a moratorium on all new rules by all agencies.

5. Order (Public Education Department to limit testing requirements to federal standards. Examples of current tests include: NMSBA (5), NMELPA (5) Short Cycle (3), DIBELS (3), and NMHSCE (2); estimated days in parentheses.

6. Require all paper reports by state agencies to be sent by e-mail, unless specifically requested in paper by legislators.

7. Stop the contract on Rose Bowl Parade Float.

8. Eliminate Intensive Support Coaches for (Developmental Disabilitywaiver programs and fund DD waivers so that services reach the individuals in need.

9. Authorize school districts to create and maintain sufficient cash balances to meet emergencies without having to apply for supplemental funding.

10. Audit all attorney invoices of plaintiffs suing the state.

11. Require carpooling by all state employees traveling to the same destination.

12. Cease all Game and Fish Department expenditures in support of the wolf reintroduction program.

13. Release 2008 Special Session funding for (Developmental Disabilty) Waivers.

14. Within 30 days, layoff all employees (usually exempt) who are not fully contributing to the agency mission.

15. Ask the Obama Administration to improve processing of federal education reimbursements. The reimbursement process is very slow resulting in school districts carrying excessive money in accounts waiting for reimbursements.

16. Of the 423 exempt employees: lay off half or cut the salaries by half.

17. If the Secretary of Human Services receives an appointment in the Obama administration, name a deputy secretary as interim secretary with no pay increase.

18. Ask employees to volunteer for up to 30 days unpaid leave.

19. Ask all agencies to cut operations by 20% but improve productivity by 10%. Provide incentive bonus pools for employees of agencies meeting this goal.

20. Suspend all contracts that only augment agency expertise.

21. Implement a true hiring freeze.

22. In grades 5 through 12, review class size standards. Ask schools to determine which classes could function well or better with more students.

23. Reduce school bus transportation costs by cutting back on very long routes and making city bus routes start farther from schools.

24. Review energy use policies. Unplug or turnoff anything not required over night such as chargers, printers, etc.

25. Cut back on high cost printing projects such as the NMFA annual report, the $40,000 New Mexico Wildlife newsletter.

26. Suspend executive agency trade missions, out of state conferences, or trips to chat with CEOs. Use phone conferencing and webinar as a replacement.

27. Review and reduce Public Safety Weed and Seed programs, that increase load on legal and corrections system for which there is not funding.

28. Review all unfunded federal mandates and cease compliance.

29. Review professional mediation services to reduce costs.

30. Ask psychologist and mental health professionals which programs produce consistent, positive results, then phase out and eliminate less successful programs.

31. Provide early release to non-violent prisoners within three months of release.

32. Ask employees to identify programs, processes and tasks that they perform that contribute little or nothing to the mission of the agency. Cut those activities..

33. Review, combine and reduce travel in state vehicles. Schedule trips to take place during non-peak driving hours.

34. Require all agencies to follow uniform procedures act and subject all proposed new to an economic impact review.

35. Ease work rules for teachers to concentrate on teaching.

36. Check out other cost savings ideas implement by other States that can work in New Mexico

37. Terminate employment of all employees on administrative leave longer than 90 days.

38. Use the correct sized envelope for correspondence. No more mailing of single 8.5 x 11 sheets in a 10 x 13 envelope. Fold! Fold! Fold! Better yet, use e-mail!

39. Turn off air conditioning or heat in buildings during mild fall days. Open windows, or use fan only settings.

40. Turn off lights when not in use.

41. Eliminate instructional teaching coaches and mentors.

42. Delay High School Redesign strategies such as a) Increased Math Requirements; b) Upcoming requirements of ACT or WorkKeys/Career testing (about 40 to 50 dollars per Junior – unbudgeted)

43. Delay or suspend selected education reporting requirements including suspending contracts for reporting software (at state level) such as: OBMS, STARS, Web-EPSS, and Certiclear (Federal Stimulus Reporting). This step would reduce or eliminate the staff hours (and FTEs) districts need to comply with reporting.

44. Ask CPA professional groups and accounting and MBA students to volunteer to perform audits on school districts unable to comply with audit requirements.

45. Sell the state jet.

46. Suspend all contracts and new expenditures on the spaceport.

47. Suspend all non-essential advertising by state agencies.

48. Reduce executive staff at Governor’s mansion.