Secretary of State announces museum staff layoffs

Secretary of State announces museum staff layoffs

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - A plan to reduce the deficit in the State's budget will mean layoffs in some state agencies.

"It's not good at all. It's the worst I've seen," said Secretary of State Tom Schedler.

The Secretary of State's Office is just one of those agencies feeling the squeeze of massive budget cuts. In total, the office was asked to cut $931,000. The Secretary announced Wednesday that there will be 24 people from its state museums laid off, including nine at the Old State Capitol building. Those museums will also be reducing their hours; some will only be open one day a week. The Old State Capital will only be open three days a week. However, around the clock security will continue.

"We operated all of these museums, in total the 16, with $3.5 million. We're being cut $1.7 million. So, it's all in personnel," said Schedler.

Some of the museum staff will be rehired as needed to maintain museum operations, and to work special events. Schedler says museums are still available as event venues. The secretary is also hopeful that the museums may find support from the public or even city leaders.

"Museums for us is like higher ed or healthcare for the state as a whole. It's the only area of my budget that's not protected by constitutional mandates," said Schedler.

In addition to layoffs, the office was able to find some major savings by consolidating some of the upcoming special elections. However, after several years of reductions, Schedler says his department doesn't have much more to give.

"Maybe there was a lot of fat cut. We've gotten a little ligament we got out of there now, and we're now starting to chip into bone, and we don't have much but the bone marrow," said Schedler. "That's when it's going to get really severe."

The Lieutenant Governor's office also announced that more than 100 people will be laid off from state parks, and $1.2 million will come out of tourism efforts.

Of the agencies making cuts, the biggest come from Department of Health and Hospitals at more than $13 million, and the Department of Transportation and Development at more than $16.6 million. The smallest cut will come from the Executive Office at just $10,000.

"The decline in oil prices means putting everything on the table and making tough decisions about our spending in order to have a balanced budget," said Commissioner of Administration Kristy Nichols in a statement. "We will continue to make reductions to ensure we are not spending more than we take in. This plan includes strategic reductions that not only balance the current year budget, but put us in a position to create continued savings next year."

The Department of Administration is cutting more than $2.5 million.

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