State Representative Gene Whisnant is working on House Bill 2856 which identifies and stops vacant state positions which could end up costing the state as much as $300 million. This bill targets vacant positions that have been vacant for 6-months of more. Vacant government positions that receive funding are often called phantom positions. Rep. Whisnant explains how state agencies come before his legislative budget hearings and lay out a detailed plan of the services they will provide and the number of employees required to do the job. The Legislature allocates the money the agency asks for but then is surprised years later to find that the positions were never filled.
Representative Whisnant stated, “We need to verify that these vacant are not being kept open as a slush fund. We are giving agencies they money to do the job based upon how many people they said they needed. If they are doing the job for less, we then can use the money for other essential services.”
With a potential $300 million of taxpayer dollars being unspent in a budget cycle, those unused funds could be used to help build roads, keep violent offenders behind bars or even eliminate the need for tax increases. Many agencies have various reasons for leaving positions vacant. State patrol officials once left dozens of police positions vacant out of fear of hiring new employees only to have them erased in the next budget cycle.