The State Worker

Chronicling civil-service life for California state workers

November 20, 2009
More about Whitman's plan to 'skinny down' state government

Get used to this, state workers. The number of California state civil servants will be an ongoing topic, we think, all the way up to the November 2010 election. So far, GOP gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman has talked about it the most, hence her prominence on this blog, including this post on Thursday.

Bee Capitol Bureau Chief Dan Smith passed along a transcript of an interview Whitman gave on Tuesday to ABC News reporter Teddy Davis. The candidate lays out how she figures the state should drop 40,000 jobs from its payroll:

Click the following link to read an excerpt from the interview.

ABC NEWS: "I want to talk to you about this theme of cutting spending. You keep coming back to it. It sounds very easy when you talk about it. Isn't there going to be some pain? Won't some popular programs like Healthy Families get cut? What's the pain that's going to come with this? Do people need to realize that it's not going to be purely fat? Is there some that is going to hurt? What's the part that will hurt?"

WHITMAN: "My view is that there are some things that can be done just by running it more efficiently and more effectively, where we can deliver the same amount of services for less, by deploying technology. But what will happen, Teddy, is we'll shrink the number of people who work for the State of California. Today, we have about 350,000 people. Frankly, we need to skinny that down by about 40,000. And so there is real pain. And the way that I came up with that number is I said, 'Okay, what are the revenues to the general fund of the State of California today. And it's about $80 to $85 billion. Right now it's about $85 billion but it's on its way to $80. When was the last time that revenues were about at that level in the State of California? It turns out in 2004-2005. So my next question was, how many more people work for the state of California today? The answer was 40,000. They have hired 40,000 more people."

ABC NEWS: "What's the breakdown of that 40,000 that you see going away?"

WHITMAN: "Basically, what you do is you go back to exactly the number of people you had in 2004-2005. It turns out there has not been much growth in front-line employees - police, firefighters, teachers; much of the growth has been in the bureaucracy up in Sacramento ...

Click here to read the entire transcript. There's also a video download on the site of a 2008 Whitman interview talking about then-presidential candidate John McCain's economic plan.

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About The State Worker

Jon Ortiz The Author

Jon Ortiz launched The State Worker blog and a companion column in 2008 to cover state government from the perspective of California government employees. Every day he filters the news through a single question: "What does this mean for state workers?" Join Ortiz for updates and debate on state pay, benefits, pensions, contracts and jobs. Contact him at (916) 321-1043 and at


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