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Justifying jobs


Oregon’s state budget is pretty transparent as government ledgers go.

But there’s still an occasional streak that obscures the view.

Republicans in the House of Representatives aim to buff out those flaws. Their cleaner, as it were, is House Bill 3360.

This legislation would require state agencies to report to the director of the state Department of Administrative Services (DAS) when any full-time job, for which the agency has money, is vacant for at least six months.

The DAS director would then decide whether to get rid of that job and return the money to the state’s general fund.

House Bill 3360 requires the DAS director to give the Legislature quarterly updates on the number of unfilled jobs agencies report.

What’s not clear is how many state jobs, at any given time, have been vacant for more than six months.

But we support the bill regardless.

With lawmakers striving to slash more than $3 billion in spending for the two-year budget cycle that starts July 1, every dollar, as the cliche goes, counts.

The Legislature can’t continue to give agencies money to pay employees who, it turns out, don’t exist.

At the least, such situations make it difficult, if not impossible, for lawmakers to keep track of what the public’s money is being spent for.

House Bill 3360 is more a gentle reminder than a bludgeon.

The legislation doesn’t automatically do away with every job that’s been vacant for six months. Agency officials would have the chance to explain, to the DAS director, why a particular job hasn’t been filled.

It might well be that there’s a good reason for the delay, and the job is still needed.

But one thing is certain: It’s time Oregon public officials started having this sort of conversation.

 
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