Museums losing workers, hours under cuts
BATON ROUGE - Drastic mid-year cuts to the Secretary of State's Office will leave many iconic Louisiana landmarks open only a few days each week and lead to two dozen layoffs according to Secretary Tom Schedler.
The Secretary of State's Office said Wednesday Schedler will ask for approval to lay off 24 workers, mostly museum staff, to start making a dent in the $930,000 mid-year cut his agency faces. Schedler released the details after he said they were shared among senior agency staff.
"This level of reduction in the last three months of the fiscal year is truly daunting," Schedler said in a press release. "Many of our partners have stepped up in various ways, so it's disappointing that the state can't continue its support. It is especially sad given our rich history."
The secretary's plans also call for postponing a BESE election in northwest Louisiana until October, which will save more than $428,000. Another $364,000 will be saved by reducing operating costs, eliminating the Elections Outreach Division, and putting a hiring freeze for parish Registrars of Voters.
The rest of the $119,000 will hit the agency's museum program, which Schedler said will affect the most employees because they anticipate the cut will be made permanent in the next fiscal year. He said that will equal a permanent reduction of $1.7 million in annual funding, which is half the Museum Division's total budget.
The secretary said museum cuts since 2008 have led them to cut back hours significantly at many locations, and now some are only open two days out of the week. The new layoffs would leave the Old State Capitol in Baton Rouge and Louisiana State Exhibit Museum in Shreveport open only three days a week. The rest of the 14 museums would open one day per week once the cuts are implemented.
"At this point, I fear finding additional efficiencies is practically impossible," Schedler said.
Below is a list of planned layoffs Schedler said he'll put before the Civil Service commission. If approved, the layoffs would take place as early as April.
Louisiana's Old State Capitol (Baton Rouge) 9 full-time layoffs, 1 part-time reduction in hours
Louisiana State Exhibit Museum (Shreveport) 8 full-time layoffs, 3 part-time reduction in hours
Louisiana Military Museum (Ruston) 2 full-time layoffs
Chennault Aviation & Military Museum (Monroe) 1 full-time job appointment reduced to 8 hours/week. 1 part-time elimination
Delta Music Museum (Ferriday) 2 part-time eliminations and 1 part-time reduction in hours
Eddie G. Robinson Museum (Grambling) 1 full-time job appointment reduced to 8 hours/week, 1 part-time elimination
Germantown Colony Museum (Minden) 1 part-time reduction in hours
Military Hall of Fame (Abbeville) 1 part-time elimination, 1 part-time reduction in hours
Cotton Museum (Lake Providence) 1 part-time elimination, 1 part-time reduction in hours
Oil and Gas Museum (Oil City) 1 full-time layoff, 2 part-time eliminations
Mansfield Female College Museum (Mansfield) 1full-time layoff
Water Works Museum (Shreveport) 1 part-time elimination, 1 part-time reduction in hours
Spring Street Historical Museum (Shreveport) 1 part-time reduction in hours
Tioga Heritage Park and Museum (Tioga) 1 part-time reduction in hours