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By Sean Gorman August 27, 2012

George Allen says the state government workforce grew when Tim Kaine was governor

Republican Senate candidate George Allen scoffed when his Democratic rival Tim Kaine said in a July debate that he undertook a series of budget cuts as governor.

"You talk about budget cuts," Allen said to Kaine during a July 21 debate at Hot Springs. "But Virginia, at the end of your term, had a larger state workforce than at the beginning of your term."

Politifact Virginia previously checked a claim from Allen that the state workforce declined substantially while he was governor from 1994 to 1998 and rated it Mostly True.

We wondered if it was true that Virginia’s workforce saw a net increase while Kaine was governor.

The Allen campaign, on its website, backs Allen’s claim by pointing to U.S. census tables showing the full-time equivalent employment for Virginia’s state government. Those tables show that from March 2006 to March 2010, the number of full-time-equivalents rose from 122,634 to 124,709.

But those census tables only look at a state’s employment levels as of March of each year.

Kaine was sworn into office on Jan. 14, 2006, and left office on Jan. 15, 2010. So Allen’s campaign is looking at a time period that starts about two months after Kaine was inaugurated and ends two months after Kaine left office.

The census numbers also include jobs in the judicial branch of government, over which a governor has limited control.

Seeking tallies more closely aligned with Kaine’s tenure and control, we turned to the website for the Virginia Department of Human Resource Management, the agency that keeps tabs on the size of the state workforce.

Anne Waring, a DHRM spokeswoman, said the department does not keep records of the workforce size on every single day. But the agency does count the size of the state’s staff as of the last day of every month.

As in our previous story about Allen, we examined tallies of full-time equivalent workers in the executive branch, since that’s the part of the bureaucracy employs about 96 of workers and  over which the governor has the most control.

There are two logical points to start counting. One is to compare the size of the workforce on Dec. 31, 2005 -- two weeks before Kaine took office -- and compare that to Dec. 31, 2009, two weeks before Kaine left office.

Between those dates, the total number of full-time-equivalent employees in the executive branch fell from 116,334 to 113,425. That’s a drop of about 2,909, or 2.5 percent. By this measure, Allen’s statement is wrong.

But since Kaine was inaugurated in the middle of January, we also looked at figures from Jan. 31, 2006, to Jan. 31, 2010. Between those dates, the number of workers rose from 111,917 to 112,212 -- an increase of 295 employees, or one-fourth of 1 percent. That makes Allen’s statement right, but not by much.  

One reason the shift in the number of employees is so dramatic is because between the end of December 2005 and the end of January 2006, the number of temporary workers -- those paid on an hourly basis -- fell from 19,579 to 15,060. Waring explained that temporary employees at colleges and universities who were counted in December were on winter break in January and, therefore, not counted as working that month.

Finally, we looked the DHRM numbers from March in 2006 and 2010 to see if they showed an increase in state employment that was similar to the census figures cited by Allen for those two months. They did not.

The census figures Allen uses show Virginia’s payroll increased by 2,175 employees from March 2006 to March 2010. DHRM data shows a decrease of 828 full-time equivalent workers in the executive branch over the four-year span.

Our ruling

Allen said the state workforce expanded during Kaine’s governorship. But there are no records that tabulate the number of executive branch employees on the mid-January day when Kaine took office in 2006 and the day he left four years later. Allen backs his claim by using U.S. Census data that only allows a comparison of numbers in March 2006 -- two months after Kaine entered office -- to March 2010 -- two months after Kaine left.

The Census data also includes workers in the judicial and legislative branches, over which a governor has limited control.

Better information is available from Virginia’s government, which counts the number of state employees at the end of every month. Determining the increase or decrease in the workforce under Kaine depends on when you start counting.

If you compare Dec. 31 figures from 2005 to 2009, the executive workforce -- controlled by the governor -- dropped by 2,909 full-time equivalents. The decrease appears largely because of the number of temporary employees on Virginia’s payroll at the close of 2005. If you compare Jan. 31 figures from 2006 to 2010, the state staff increased by 295.

Contrary to the Census numbers cited by Allen, state records show that the bureaucracy under the governor’s control shrank by 828 full-time equivalents between March 2006 and March 2010.

So Allen’s information does not come from the best source: The state government. Using state numbers, Allen is barely right by one measure and wrong by two others.

Allen’s statement, while containing an element of truth, ignores critical facts that would give a different impression. We rate it Mostly False.

Featured Fact-check

Our Sources

Kaine for Virginia, "Full VBA Debate," July 21, 2012. (Statement starts at 1:08:33)

Interview with Anne Waring, spokeswoman for the Department of Human Resource Management, August 2, 2012.

E-mail from Anne Waring, August 14, 2012.

George Allen for United States Senate, "Size of state workforce grows under Tim Kaine," August 1, 2012.

Virginia Department of Human Resource Management, "State workforce employment level trends," October 15, 2011.

Virginia Department of Human Resource Management, "Monthly employment level," for December 31, 2005; December 31, 2009; January 31, 2006; January 31, 2010.

E-mail from Brandi Hoffine, spokeswoman for the Kaine for Virginia campaign, August 1, 2012.

PolitiFact Virginia, "Allen says he substantially cut state government workforce as governor," September 3, 2011.

U.S. Census Annual Survey of Public Employment and Payroll, "2010 Public Employment Payroll Data for Virginia," accessed August 6, 2012.

U.S. Census Annual Survey of Public Employment and Payroll, "State Government Employment Data: March 2006," accessed August 6, 2012.

National Governor’s Association, "Virginia Governor Tim Kaine," accessed August 20, 2012.

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