Rep. Ben Carpenter
Alaska House of Representatives, District 8

HB 180 “An Act relating to eliminating vacant positions…”

I sponsored HB 180 to help reduce wasteful spending and improve budget transparency by creating a process to automatically remove unnecessary positions each budget cycle. HB 180 eliminates positions in the classified or partially exempt service that have been vacant for the immediately preceding 364-day period.

HB 180 only applies to unfilled positions and doesn’t eliminate currently filled positions. Some state government positions are hard to fill, especially when they are technical in nature or require advanced degrees. A reasonable amount of time should be afforded to state agencies for the task of hiring the most qualified individual. HB 180 affords leaders and personnel managers an entire year to fill a position before it is eliminated. If the position is still required by the agency, the position can be reauthorized during the next legislative budget cycle.

The iterative process of automatic elimination and reauthorization is necessary to increase transparency in our budget process. This change will prevent the abused budget technique of “padding the books” with authorized positions without the intention to fill them. In practice, the position is justified by the agency, authorized and appropriated for by the legislature, but because no employee is ever hired, the money can be spent elsewhere within the agency.

HB 180 will establish a one-year limit for positions to remain unfilled before they are eliminated. This gives managers time to hire for the position if it is truly required and provides the legislature with better transparency from year to year.

HB 180 can be found here.