The front page story in today’s Lee papers has the commenters and legislators buzzing because it seems to suggest that there has been some sort of massive expansion of state government under Brian Schweitzer. A quick look at math makes it pretty clear that the story just isn’t that important.
For those of you who don’t believe in math or science, that’s a growth rate of 6.64%. The massive growth rate of state government highlighted in the article? A whopping 8.8%. A 2.2% difference is easily explained by factors that the article does mention: expanded programs like CHIP, the Office of Public Defender, and the “growth industry” of Corrections.
Perhaps the rate of growth in state government is something to look at it, but it’s hardly the crisis this sensationalistic story suggests. If the Legislature wants to advocate focused, appropriate cuts based on research of needs, that’s one thing. To overreact and make massive cuts would simply ignore demographic reality.
Update: It’s also worth noting that Montana has fewer public sector employees per capita than North Dakota, Idaho, and those known socialists in Wyoming, according to the Center for Economic and Policy Research.