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Explaining "Attrition Savings"

Mark Carroll

Toward the end of the special session, there was a new hot topic at the Capitol: “attrition”.

“A big discussion now about this attrition issue as a basis for balancing the budget,” Commissioner of Administration Jay Dardenne said at one point.

It started with Representative Rick Edmonds’ HB 8, a measure to fix the shortfall without using any Rainy Day dollars.

“There’s 1750 positions, thereabout, that are funded and unfilled,” the Baton Rouge Republican announced to the full House. “And that money represents – with benefits – about 107 to 108-million dollars.”

The positions he’s referring to are state jobs – also known as T.O.s. Barry Dusse’, director of the state Office of Planning and Budget, explains the terminology.

“A T.O. is nothing more than a position within the table of organization,” Dusse’ says, “And when we develop the budget, we fund those positions at 100%, less an attrition rate.”

But what is this “attrition rate”?

“We know throughout the year somebody’s gonna leave. – whether they retire or whether they find another job,” Dusse’ states. “So we try to capture a historical rate, in which a particular position is vacant at some point during the year.”

The savings realized while the state isn’t paying a salary or benefits are already calculated into the state budget, and more “attrition savings” were gleaned with the solution to fixing the FY 2016 end-of-year shortfall in December.

And there are far fewer state jobs now than there used to be. In 2008, when Bobby Jindal became governor, there were 93,500 state workers. Now?

“What is our total T.O.s for all state agencies this year?” Senator Jim Fannin inquired.

“32,510,” Dusse’ says.

So holding jobs vacant for the next four months and finding another $12.9-million in attrition dollars, -- which is what the legislature okayed in the end – isn’t going to be easy.

“Attrition savings are going to be very, very hard to identify,” Governor John Bel Edwards admits.