Administration says state on-track to save $75M
BATON ROUGE - Governor Bobby Jindal's Division of Administration told lawmakers Monday the state was on track to save $75 million out of the General Fund for the 2015 fiscal year.
State legislators learned nine departments got recommendations from an outside consultant group known as Alvarez and Marsal. The group is helping each department budget on how to help the state save money. Each met before the senate "finance" committee meeting.
Commissioner of Administration Kristy Nichols said so far the state has saved $50 million through steps outlined by consultants in the Governmental Efficiencies Management Support report released in June.
"This proves that we're on the right track and that the hard work of state agencies is paying off," Nichols said. "We created aggressive targets and are finding ways to meet them even as falling oil prices have made other adjustments necessary."
State commissioners say some departments are exceeding their expected savings target and believe the state could save more than $80 million. However, some senators say more can be done within some departments.
"Can some of the departments do a better job at streamlining their operations? Absolutely," said Vice Chairman of Finance Committee Norbert "Norby" Chabert. "Have some departments done just about as best as they could? Absolutely, but it's important that we met to go over all this stuff and make sure the taxpayers get the most bang for their buck."
The state has also made additional cuts outside from other departments which includes getting rid of more than 300 toll-free phone lines, cutting three high-paying jobs under the Department of Veteran Affairs, and changing job descriptions in state government to avoid turnover.
The full GEMS report included more than $302 million in total savings and efficiencies for the fiscal year. Nichols said as of Monday, the total savings and efficiencies so far was $182 million.
The office of Juvenile Justice is currently the only department that won't be able to generate funds for this upcoming fiscal year. The contract with the consultants drew criticism from some lawmakers, who felt the state should be able to find its own savings.