The Texas Education Agency said Tuesday that it is laying off 178 employees this week. Those are among the first of thousands of state government layoffs expected in the coming weeks.
The TEA decision has been months in the making, as the agency seeks to reduce its staff by 32 percent to cope with budget cuts ordered by the Texas Legislature, an agency spokeswoman said.
This week’s layoffs come on the heels of 91 layoffs by the agency in February, with another 74 people retiring, quitting or transferring this year.
At the start of the legislative session in January, lawmakers proposed a 2012-13 budget that a Legislative Budget Board analysis said would cut 9,600 positions statewide in an attempt to balance a budget that spends 8 percent less than the current one. By the time the Legislature passed a budget in late May, the board estimated that 5,700 state government jobs would be lost, a 2.4 percent reduction from 2011 to 2013.
Two weeks ago, the Texas Water Development Board, a state agency that does long-term water planning, laid off 39 workers and eliminated an additional 28 jobs, said spokeswoman Merry Klonower. Almost all of the cuts are being made to the staff in Austin.
The board, which employs more than 300 people, is facing $16.8 million in cuts, a 30 percent reduction in its budget.
The workers received one month of severance pay.
In late June, the 3,000-employee Texas Parks and Wildlife Department announced more than 100 layoffs as the agency faces a 21 percent budget cut. About half of the layoffs are being done in Austin. The employees also are receiving 45 days of severance pay.
All this comes on the heels of some non-robust job numbers in the year ending in May. The report for the current quarter ought to be interesting. So I’m just curious about something: If a poor jobs report were to be added to the poor poll numbers in Iowa and Texas, and someone were to eventually notice that one of the organizers of his upcoming Prayerapalooza hates the Statue of Liberty (which, let’s be honest, would already have the right-wing rage machine in full nuclear meltdown by now if there were any Democrats involved), do you think that maybe the national media might start to think that perhaps Rick Perry isn’t all that and a bag of chips?