Public employment continues to grow - Increase of 444.5 full-time equivalent employees in 2003
To measure growth and spending over time, the state compares fiscal years (FY), which run from July 1 to June 30. The numbers show that state employment grew from 103,818.3 FTEs in 2002 to 104,262.8 in 2003. This upward trend is continuing once again in 2004.
Comparing employment trends in 2004 with the same time frame in 2003 shows that FTEs are once again increasing. If this year's trend continues, 2004 will mark the eighth straight year that state FTEs have increased. State employment has grown steadily since 1997.
State (public) employment growth
Source: Office of Financial Management. * Includes salary and benefits.
Because the number of FTEs fluctuates each month due to seasonal employment, another way to measure current trends is to compare months with their corresponding months in previous years. Comparing January 2004 to prior years, we see that while state employment decreased in one area (Natural Resources), it still increased overall.
State FTEs by Sector
Source: Office of Financial Management. * Excludes K-12 teachers.
These employment growth numbers are especially troubling in the context of the supplemental budget legislators are set to approve. Washington's current budget already exceeds forecasted revenue by $184 million for this budget cycle. Despite this, both the governor and legislature have suggested supplemental budgets that will increase spending even more. New spending additions only exacerbate the deficit for next biennium.
By adhering to the priorities of government budget model, if legislators determine that new FTEs and spending are necessary, these additions will be offset in the budget by reductions in areas of a lower priority. This will allow taxpayers the security of knowing that future tax increases will not be needed to pay for unnecessary government growth.
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