As part of a streamlining plan, some state agencies may be trimmed back to four-day work weeks, under a cost-cutting bill being considered by legislators. Governor Dave Heineman says it’s important that all state departments — and the legislature — start preparing now for budget cuts.
“We’re looking at a variety of different options,” Heineman says. “It’s a bit premature when you don’t know the number that you’re going to have to deal with, whether that’s up or down. If we have to tighten our belts further, I’ve told everybody in state government, that’s what we have to do. That’s what every citizen, every business in our state’s doing. When your income’s down, you reduce expenditures.”
The state could end up facing a shortfall of several hundred million dollars when the next two-year budget cycle begins in mid-2011. Governor Heineman says it’s best to continue cutting back now, as the state’s economic woes are far from over.
“It’ll be difficult,” he says. “I mean, we have to cut another 50 or $100-million out of the budget, it won’t be easy but that’s what the people expect us to do.” If revenues lag projections in the next several months, it’s also possible lawmakers would be forced to meet in a special session, although Heineman says that’s not a certainty.
Thanks to Jerry Oster, WNAX, Yankton