Guinn tells administrators they need just one set of priorities
Gov. Kenny Guinn served notice Thursday he doesn’t want his agencies fighting for their own piece of the pie at the 2001 Legislature.
“We’re not going to have 300 or 400 bills introduced,” he told the monthly Public Administrators’ luncheon. “We have to focus.”
He said he intends to develop a long-range plan for his administration and set a short list of “super-priorities.”
He says having every agency go to lawmakers with its own set of priorities “is not giving legislators a clean picture of our priorities.” He said there was far too much of that during the last session – his first.
“But every time you do that, you are taking away from our ability to pass those three or four super-priorities,” he said.
Guinn said that may mean some agencies have to sacrifice a few things to the more urgent needs of other agencies.
Every governor in the past 30 years has tried to control the practice by agencies with varying but limited success. Lawmakers and agency officials readily admit they have their allies who will help their causes during session no matter what the governor wants.
Guinn did, however, offer agency officials a few things in return, saying that state salaries should not be the bottom priority, that agencies should get more freedom to run their show and that he wants to greatly expand training and advancement opportunities within government.
“The most inconsistent thing I have seen in state government, throughout state government, is a lack of formal training,” he said.
Guinn said that stifles the individual, robbing him or her of opportunities to advance and improve in job and pay.
He said he plans to change that dramatically.
Guinn said he thinks salary and benefits should be worked out and given a priority during development of the budget, not treated as an afterthought.
The also hinted he wants to have the state eventually pick up the full cost of retirement for state workers like most counties and school districts. The cost is now split with workers and amounts to some 10 percent of their salaries.
And he said he wants to convince legislators to give up some of the red tape that makes it difficult for agencies to do their jobs. He cited travel restrictions that bar more than two agency representatives from attending an out-of-town meeting as an example.
“We’ve got to change that and open up to trust your judgment,” said Guinn.
The comments were generally well received by the administrators, many of whom serve at the governor’s pleasure.