Critiquing the new state budget, state Rep. Eddie Rodriguez told the Central Texas Democratic Forum that Austin will suffer because of cuts imposed by the Republican-controlled Legislature.
"We’re losing almost 6,000 state jobs," the Austin Democrat said June 22. "If you lose a lot of state employees, it affects Austin" — the state capital — "more than almost any other place in Texas."
We wondered whether Rodriguez was right about the number of state jobs getting cut in the 2012-13 budget.
Nate Walker, Rodriguez's chief of staff, pointed us to an analysis of the adopted budget by the Legislative Budget Board, which advises lawmakers on budgetary matters. The report has a section on "full-time-equivalent positions," which include state agency jobs as well as higher-education jobs that are funded with money appropriated by the Legislature.
According to the report, the new state budget provides for 235,240 FTEs in fiscal year 2012 and 235,135 FTEs in 2013. Compared with the 240,862 FTEs that were budgeted for the current fiscal year, which ends Aug. 31, that's a reduction of 5,727 FTEs by 2013, or 2.4 percent.
But does that mean 5,727 fewer state jobs by 2013? Sort of.
According to the state auditor's office, which collects information on the state's work force, one full-time-equivalent position is "any combination of employees whose hours total 40." That means that an FTE total is not necessarily equivalent to a head count — one FTE position could be filled by two people working 20 hours a week, for example — and that the number of jobs being cut over the next two years could actually be greater than 5,727.
It's also important to note that eliminating a position doesn't always mean someone gets laid off. Employers frequently trim their work forces by getting rid of unfilled jobs. And after the 2004-05 budget was written, the last time the state faced a significant revenue shortfall, most of the 10,000 eliminated state jobs were cleared through attrition and a retirement incentive, not layoffs, according to a September 2010 Austin American-Statesman article.
According to the most recent information from the state auditor’s office, there were about 255,000 full- and part-time state agency and state-paid higher education employees in the second quarter of fiscal 2011. So, how many of those people are expected to lose their state government jobs because of the budget cuts?
That's difficult to determine because we don't know how many of the positions destined to be eliminated are currently filled. Also, the state doesn't have a centralized, single source to go to for layoff plans; those decisions are made at the agency level.
Still, news about layoffs at state agencies has been trickling out.
The Statesman recently reported that the Texas Education Agency and the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department are each expected to lay off more than 100 people.
And in an interview with the Statesman published July 2, University of Texas President William Powers Jr. said that roughly 600 UT employees would be laid off "over a couple-year period." In Dallas, the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center announced June 29 that it had cut 105 employees, according to a Fort Worth Star-Telegram article.
Summing up: Rodriguez’s statement refers to full-time-equivalent positions as jobs. While that's not a perfect fit, it's understandable shorthand for what the new budget requires. We rate this statement as True.