JFAC has started budget hearings for state agencies with the Legislative Services Office. It’s the first of an array of hearings that will reveal how budget cuts have translated into changes on the ground in agencies throughout state government; also up today are the state controller’s office, the endowment fund investment board, the state treasurer’s office and the lieutenant governor. Legislative Services Director Jeff Youtz told the joint budget committee this morning that LSO has 66 employees, but five of those positions are vacant and will remain vacant. He noted that the Research & Legislation Division, responsible for drafting all legislation, is down in staffing. “Twenty-five years ago, in 1985, this operation … had 14 positions,” he said. “We now have 13, one less than we did a quarter-century ago.” The Budget & Policy Division also is down, at nine employees today, plus one vacancy. Twenty-five years ago, there were 11. “We’ve kept the legislative services office small by design, because we’re so seasonal,” Youtz told lawmakers. Typically staffers work lots of overtime during the legislative session, then take comp time during slower times of the year.
However, unpaid furloughs imposed as a result of budget cuts are bumping up against comp time and vacations. “All employees of Legislative Services did take five furlough days the first half of this year,” Youtz said. Also, with recent budget cuts, two seasonal proofreaders for the legislative session were eliminated. “I’m hoping that won’t have an impact on bill turnaround and errors,” he said.