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Multiple state agencies facing hiring crisis

Virtually every area of state government is facing a hiring crisis due to low salaries.
Published: Jan. 24, 2022 at 5:33 PM EST
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (CNS) - Virtually every area of state government is facing a hiring crisis due to low salaries. Presentations by The Departments of Juvenile Justice, Children and Families and Corrections show high turnover, and as Mike Vasilinda tells us, fewer and fewer job applicants.

A chart, presented to lawmakers, shows there are 10,000 fewer people working for the state than prior to the pandemic. Nearly one in five authorized positions are vacant.

The burden has been particularly hard on agencies, like Arc of Florida, which serve the most vulnerable.

“It’s really horrible right now,” says Mark Swain, the Board Chair for Arc Florida and the CEO of Arc Gainesville. “We need 174 Direct Service Provider’s to operate safely, and we are 66 short.”

Pre-pandemic, an average of 44 people applied for state job postings. Monday, it was just over 11.

“Filling the talent pool is critical,” said Todd Inman, who is the secretary of Management Services for the state, during the presentation to lawmakers.

Juvenile Justice is also having retention problems.

An exchange between Senator Jeff Brandes and Heather DiGiacomo of the Department of Juvenile Justice highlighted the staffing problems the department is facing.

“I’ve heard people are leaving detention program to go work at the car wash across the street. Is that correct?” asked Brandes.

“I would say that is an accurate statement, yes,” replied DiGiacomo.

And If there is good news here, it is that lawmakers have just been told that they’re going to have an extra $4 billion to spend over the next two years.

But House Democrats Leader Evan Jenne says starving the government has been the Republicans’ way since Jeb Bush.

“He said he wanted to see state government buildings empty, and this is a continued drive towards that,” said Jenne.

But for Mark Swain and Arc, understaffing is not a viable option and care is suffering.

“The people who are most vulnerable are really losing out here because the providers just don’t have the staff to take these people in,” Swain told Capitol News Service.

And while the governor has promised raises to move people toward a $15 per hour minimum wage, even that wage nowadays isn’t enticing enough to fill the vacancies.

Taxpayers aren’t saving money because fewer people are working. Overtime has nearly tripled, from $58 million to $152 million last year.

Copyright 2022 Capitol News Service. All rights reserved.