Agriculture layoffs not surprising

Published 12:00 am Saturday, March 19, 2011

The Alabama Department of Agriculture and Industries is the first state agency to announce layoffs because of budget cuts this year and next year, but it won’t be the last.

Agriculture Commissioner John McMillan said Thursday that 17 employees have been notified that they will be laid off. Another 35 to 40 will get notices next week. The layoffs will be effective at the end of April for the agency, which currently has about 390 employees.

The agency’s current budget is being reduced by 15 percent proration, and faces another 30 percent reduction in funding in the governor’s proposed budget for the fiscal year that begins Oct. 1.

While the amounts will vary from agency to agency, all but a few state agencies will face significant budget reductions this fiscal year and next, which means the public can expect similar announcements to be made from other agencies in coming weeks.

The reduction in staff is a harsh reality, but not a surprising one.

While its unfortunate that some state employees will lose their job, it appears to be the only recourse left to make significant headway in this budget crisis.