Thursday, May 13, 2010

Creative Solutions for Budget Shortfalls

Well, it turns out Texas is not in as good a shape as we thought. Instead of the projected $9 billion shortfall for the next legislative session, due to start next year, the amount has doubled to $18 billion. Texans abhor new taxes, so to even suggest this as a solution is political suicide.

So instead the Speaker of the Texas House, Joe Straus R-SA, is looking in to creative solutions such as unpaid employee furloughs and 4-day work weeks. The 4-day work week has some potential and has had good results at USAA and the city of El Paso. Instead of working 8 hours 5 days a week, employees would be at the job 10 hours 4 days a week and then a day off. This helps save on utilities, custodial services and gas for government vehicles.

Another solution in the works is allowing flexible class sizes for grades K through 4 instead of the mandated 22 students. As it stands now if 23 students show up another teacher needs to be hired and another class room set up. Teachers of course are against this idea, but would they rather be laid off?

Other ideas involve streamlining bureaucratic operations. I'm sure there are a lot of small fixes that could be found that could make a difference. For example, the University of Michigan decided to change all publications, memos, letters, etc that are printed by the University to use the Century Gothic font, which uses less ink than the standard Arial font. They figure this will save between $5,000 to $10,000 per year. This may not sound like much but lots of small changes like this add up.

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