Making budget cuts, kind and otherwise

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By Sherry Robinson

Sometimes a statistic knocks at your door.

This one was an attractive, well-spoken, 40-something woman.

“My husband and I were laid off last month. I can do cleaning, and he can do yard work,” she said, handing me a flyer.

I could have used her help, but like a lot of other self-employed people, I’ve seen my work thin out lately.

So it’s hard to rustle up much sympathy for state workers whose morale is reportedly suffering after the first of five furlough days. They still have jobs and regular paychecks. The woman at my door, one of 25,400 people to lose a job in New Mexico in 2009, would like to have their problems.

That said, I think Gov. Bill Richardson should have exempted the lowest-paid state workers and allowed those who would welcome the time off to volunteer.

This is just one swipe at state payroll and will save about $8.1 million. Budget cutters are also looking at political appointees, double dippers and UNM’s imperial presidency.

When 59 of the governor’s chosen get the ax on Jan. 8, the state will save another $8.3 million. (And 47 exempt positions are still vacant.) During the recent special session, a Republican bill would have cut 281; a Democratic bill, 180. The governor vetoed the surviving bill and promised to get rid of 84.

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