Senate adopts Fortunato’s proposal to find government waste

State employees eligible for bonuses 

Politicians often talk about cutting government waste. The question is, how to find it?

State Senator Phil Fortunato argues that one of the best ways is to rely on front-line state workers. His proposal to re-establish the state Productivity Board, Senate Bill 5015, would do just that and was approved unanimously by the state Senate yesterday, the last day to pass Senate legislation out of the upper chamber.

The defunct program had provided financial incentives to state employees who find government waste, but due to budgetary constraints, the board was disbanded in 2011 because it cost $2 million.

“The fiscal note doesn’t tell the whole story,” said Fortunato, R-Auburn. “Using typical government logic, it did not look at the reason it cost $2 million because it paid bonuses to state employees who saved the state $20 million. Only government thinks that way.”

“State employees have the potential to save taxpayers much more in recurring costs from ineffective programs they’re administering,” added Fortunato, who hopes state employees will save taxpayers 10 times more than the cost of the program. With a biennial operating budget now over $65 billion, there is plenty of areas for potential savings, he noted.

If passed into law, the Productivity Board would be operational by July 2025 or sooner if the employment backlog in the Office of Secretary of State can be filled. The board would be required to evaluate the potential savings of a proposal and develop a list of possible productivity awards to be distributed to state employees, who could receive up to $10,000 or 10% of savings, whichever is lower.

“State workers are taxpayers, too. They know firsthand the inefficiencies in the programs the Legislature or state government creates. Now they will have a vested interest in making the best use of those tax dollars,” Fortunato said. “The more savings taxpayers realize, the more they can benefit.”

The measure will start working its way through the House of Representatives for consideration and must be approved by the House by April 12. The 2023 legislative session is scheduled to end April 23.