There are currently more than 1,300 unfilled jobs in Montana executive branch agencies. It’s still unclear exactly how many of those positions are being kept open as a result of the state’s budget shortfall.
The budget state lawmakers passed last year authorizes more than 13,000 employees in administrative agencies like the state departments of health, corrections and transportation.
A spokesperson for Governor Steve Bullock says that fewer than 12,000 of those jobs are currently filled.
When state tax revenues fell below projections last year, lawmakers and Governor Bullock agreed to cut $170 million from Montana’s general fund, a roughly four percent reduction.
In recent weeks the impacts of these cuts to government spending have become more clear. However state agencies have not released information about what role employee layoffs are playing in the state’s fix to balance the budget.
Yesterday the governor’s office released, by request, the number of jobs currently vacant in state agencies. But it remains unclear how and when those became empty positions, and to what degree those vacancies are a direct result of the state’s budgeting issues.
The Department of Public Health and Human Services has the largest number of vacant positions at more than 400, which is about 12 percent of the agency’s budgeted workforce.
According to a spokesperson for the Governor, state layoffs and position changes, are, “being observed by different agencies in different ways to meet reductions to funding and to best continue to deliver services for Montanans."