Yesterday, I posted on the Daugaard Administration's apparent prioritization of bigger state government over stronger support for education. Daugaard Administration Director of Policy and Communications Tony Venhuizen communicates this corrective response:

I emailed Cory to share with him that the numbers he is using to calculate FTE growth are inaccurate. I thought I would post the same information that I emailed him.

Here are the correct numbers:

The final Rounds budget, which was the FY11 budget that was adopted by the 2010 Legislature, budgeted 13,612.1 FTE.
http://legis.state.sd.us/sessions/2010/Bill.aspx?File=SB196ENR.htm

The FTE number in the proposed FY14 budget is 13,810.0.

If the FY14 budget is adopted, the increase over the three-year period would be 1.5%. That is an average annual increase during that period 0.5%.

That growth rate is less than one-third of the 4.6% rate that Cory calculated.

(I would comment that SD's population grew an estimated 1.2% in the single year from 2010-11. There is no census estimate yet for 2012, and of course not for 2013. http://quickfacts.census.gov/qfd/states/46000.html)

The source of this mistake is understandable and I don't fault Cory for it.

The chart Cory looked to in the budget book refers to "Actual FY11" and "Recommended FY14" budgets. Each year includes an FTE number, and Cory calculated growth based on those two numbers.

(You can see it here:

http://bfm.sd.gov/budget/rec14/
SD_Total_Recommended_2014.pdf
)

The chart doesn't make this very clear, but those numbers are not comparable because the FY11 number is an "actual" number, and FY14 is a "recommended" budgeted number.

The difference? The FY14 number is the maximum number of FTE that the state is allowed to employ. The FY11 number is the actual number that were employed - which is always lower than the budgeted, maximum number. This is because there are always vacancies throughout the year due to turnover. For example, if I employ a person in my office, she would account for 1.0 budgeted FTE. But if that person resigns, and the position is vacant for three months before I hire a replacement, I would have only used 0.75 FTE for the year. The other 0.25 FTE was budgeted, but not actually used.

The difference is obvious if you look at the "Actual FY12" and "Budgeted FY13" columns. There was not an increase of almost 750 FTE last year - I think we can assume we would have heard about that if it had happened. Rather, it is because the FY10 and FY11 columns are measuring a different thing than the FY13 or FY14 columns.

I agree that this aspect of chart is confusing, but the point is that in order to compare year-to-year, one needs to look at the BUDGETED FY11 FTE number, not the ACTUAL FY11 FTE number. It is the Budgeted FY11 number that is comparable to the recommended FY14 number [Tony Venhuizen, comment, Madville Times, 2012.12.05].

To summarize: the number of full-time equivalents we pay for by the end of the fiscal year will inevitably be lower than the amount budgeted, due to job turnover. Governor Daugaard is recommending a state workforce that is only 1.5% larger than what his predecessor M. Michael Rounds recommended at the end of his term in 2010.

Now that's the kind of solid policy discussion I like to see in the comment section. Thank you, Mr. Venhuizen, for that informed policy perspective.