James proposes six-point plan to save state money
He suggests implementing unpaid furlough days for employees at all state government operations. James said furloughing all state employees for one day would save $6 million.
The State Personnel Board passed a measure to allow furloughs, which members believed would give state agencies another option in addressing budget shortfalls besides layoffs. The Legislature blocked that policy.
"We've got to put it back on the table," James said.
He said part of campaigning is bringing awareness to issues. Furloughs would avoid layoffs and job cuts, James said.
He also suggested an indefinite state hiring freeze, which was implemented by Gov. Bob Riley in late 2008.
Riley and James have said the hiring freeze saves millions as workers leave through attrition. They also agree there should be some exceptions including corrections officers.
James supports passage of legislation that would create an Office of Inspector General, who would be appointed by the governor and given authority to conduct independent audits and inspections of all state operations.
The goal, he said, is to ensure taxpayer dollars are spent efficiently and to "eliminate waste, fraud and abuse."
James also supports random audits of state departments and agencies. The results would be published on the state's Web site.
He also wants to reduce all non-essential travel and entertainment, except for economic development, law enforcement, and that related to emergencies.
The other facet of his plan is independent reviews of existing and pending state contracts to determine whether they comply with state guidelines and whether there is an opportunity for additional savings through bringing those legal, accounting, engineering, architecture and computer technology services in-house.
James said he did not have a total of how much his proposals would save, but that it would not be enough to fill the several hundred million-dollar-hole in the state's budgets.
He said the plan helps address the decreased revenue coming into the state without a tax increase.
James, who was talking on the State House steps in front of about two dozen supporters, repeatedly emphasized that the state should not rely on money from Washington to balance the budget.
"You can’t budget money you don't have," he said.
Riley has said the state has to anticipate money from the federal government every year in crafting a budget. The state receives hundreds of millions of dollars to use for Medicaid, transportation, and other programs.
A spokesman for U.S. Rep. Artur Davis, a Democrat running for governor, said in a statement that several months ago the congressman released "a detailed plan to audit state government, eliminate waste and fraud and save Alabama taxpayers $664 million."
"We welcome Tim James to the cause of taxpayer protection, but find it disappointing that he has introduced a plan that generates no specific savings while wrongly placing a tremendous financial burden on the backs of state employees," said spokesman Alex Goepfert.
The candidates, who are among nine who have announced they are running for governor, have more information about their plans on their Web sites.