Governors in the news: across the nation, governors are targeting red ink

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January 10, 2011

By Eileen McGuire-Mahony

Alaska Salary Commission votes pay raises for the Governor and Lieutenant Governor

Barring any objection from the state legislature, the two executive officers in Alaska will start taking home more money in 2012. The state's salary commission did not ultimately go with the $50,000 pay raise that had been discussed, instead opting to boost the Governor's pay $20,000 from $125,000 to $145,000 a year. Too, the Lieutenant Governor's office will also see a raise, from $100,000 to $115,000.[1]

Currently, both offices are in Republican hands, filled respectively by Sean Parnell and Mead Treadwell. The combination of oil wealth and more austere fiscal management at a time when the lower 48 states were expanding government means Alaska in one of the few states in a position to talk about salary raises at all.

California's Brown kills top offices to meet promise of slashing Governor's Office budget

Keeping a vow to cut 25% of his office's operating costs, Democrat Jerry Brown has axed the Office of the Cabinet Secretary, all Deputy Cabinet Secretary positions, and the Office of the Secretary of Education. Last week, it was announced that First Lady Anne Gust Brown would work as an unpaid special adviser to the Governor.[2] Governor Brown followed that up by getting rid of the actual Office of the First Lady. Additionally, he has cut three field offices around the state and cut back on his press and communications offices. The moves bring the estimated cost to run the Governor's office down to $13.4 million.[3] By itself, that won't be enough to bring California back to fiscal health and the early announcement of cutting top tier positions may be a calculated move to buy the Governor some political support when and if he make large scale layoffs at lower offices. Early indications from Brown's office are that cuts will be broad, affecting nearly every agency under his authority.[4]


Florida may get casinos as Governor Scott reverses his campaign position on gambling

Having taken a position against resort style casinos in Florida while campaigning, Republican Rick Scott now says he will consider allowing what is called 'destination gambling' – high end resort complexes that pair casinos with hotels, shopping, and meeting spaces. As a candidate, Scott had criticized tying Florida's revenues to gambling; he has since conceded that the state already permits gaming and that such complexes as are now on the table are potentially lucrative revenue streams.[5] Initial meeting have already taken place and preliminary Senate hearings on the proposal could be imminent.[6]

Massachusetts' Deval Patrick says he will serve the entirety of his second term, ruling out a run at Scott Brown's Senate seat

Newly re-elected, the Bay State Democrat confirmed that he is not interested in the U.S Senate seat currently held by Republican Scott Brown. Patrick also confirmed he does not plan to leave his office for a job with the Obama Administration, a scenario that has some credibility due to Patrick's strong ties to President Obama. Governor Patrick's announcement is set to break a string of GOP state executives who shortened their tenures. William Weld and Paul Celluci resigned during their terms while Mitt Romney and Jane Swift declined to run for second terms.[7]

Minnesota's new Governor will take another stab at securing Federal education dollars

Minnesota's new Governor, Democrat Mark Dayton, has announced he wants his state to reapply for Federal 'Race to the Top' education funding, giving him an early bipartisan win as Republican lawmakers crossed the aisle to praise this move. Race to the Top is a $4.35 billion Federal program that most recently only awarded funds to two states, leading Dayton to say publicly he hopes plenty of funds are still available for Minnesota.[8]

His predecessor, Republican Tim Pawlenty, had spearheaded a first application that was denied when the Department of Education concluded the state lacked a policy for supporting excellent teachers and firing poor performers. Education Minnesota, the state's teachers union, was frequently at odds with Pawlenty and has yet to make any official comment on Dayton's announcement to seek the Race to the Top funding.

Ohio's Lottery Commission is the target of staff cuts by Governor-elect Kasich

16 employees of the Ohio State Lottery won't be reporting for work today as the man who cut their jobs takes office as the Governor. The layoffs were part of Republican John Kasich's plan to repair Ohio's budget deficit and continued a practice of making cuts among agencies where workers are not protected by civil service rules.[9] The move capped a week when Kasich, who ousted Democrat Ted Strickland in a contentious election, also announced cuts at the Departments of Transportation, Natural Resources, Taxation, and Development.

Tennessee's Governor-elect rules out large scale layoffs to close budget gap – for now

Bill Haslam, the Republican Governor-elect of Tennessee, set to succeed Democrat Phil Bredesen, has said widespread layoffs of public sector workers won't be part of his plan to put the state in the black, at least not in his first year in office.[10] He went to say he plans to use the first year of his term to learn the ropes and will revisit the idea of layoffs after he has some time on the job. Haslam did say he will look at leaving already vacant positions unfilled to save money. Tennessee's current state payroll comes in around $2.8 billion