Governor Cuomo’s recent announcement of laying off up to 9,800 state workers starting on July 15th is ironic while at the same time he is hiring loyal campaign contributors and volunteers to hundreds of appointive positions. Cuomo honors the age old practice of to the victor belongs the spoils. Cuomo is missing how hard working State civil servants manage billions of dollars in taxpayer generated aid received from Washington. What will the potential impact of Cuomo’s layoffs along with hiring freezes be on the ability of state employees continuing their successful management of federal aid? Federal agencies provide funding to various State agencies for staff to administer their respective programs. They also provide travel money, which state employees may need to visit villages, towns and counties along with other recipients around the state. This is done to insure proper oversight when the state passes on federal dollars spent by local municipalities. Adequate staff is needed to review and approve vouchers from recipients. There is also the need for dedicated employees to process financial reimbursements and provide progress reports for respective federal funding agencies to review.
Without sufficient staff, will various state departments be able to continue submitting grant applications on time? How will current federally funded programs continue being completed on time and within budget? How will they avoid having unspent funds being carried over year after year? How will they provide proper oversight to ensure there is no waste, fraud or abuse? How will they ensure all change orders for consultant and construction projects are fair, reasonable and documented?
Doesn’t it make more sense to exempt any state staff positions or travel funds currently available under existing federal grants from any layoffs or freezes? At the end of the day, what cost savings can be found by not spending increasingly scarce available federal dollars? Why not allow the hard working career civil service employees who are managing the billions of dollars in federal aid the full tools they need to continue doing the job right? This might also assist them in the competition against other states for the increasingly scarce discretionary federal dollars to supplement regular yearly formula assistance.
When it comes to laying off any federal funded staff positions, this is penny wise and pound foolish.