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State Human Services Union Identifies Ways to Save Millions of Tax Dollars

SEIU Local 668 says Governor has ignored their cost saving suggestions

HARRISBURG, Pa., Jan. 6 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- In response to Governor Rendell's request for suggestions on closing the state's budget shortfall, SEIU Local 668, the Union which represents over 20,000 human services workers across Pennsylvania, said they have identified millions of dollars that could be saved. The Union said the Governor should cancel contracts with private contractors for work that can be done more efficiently and for a lower cost by state employees.

"The need for human services is at an all-time high due to the present state of the economy," said Kathy Jellison, President of SEIU Local 668, the Pennsylvania Social Services Union. "Yet there are fewer and fewer people to provide these vital services, due to flat funding of public agencies and the hiring freeze imposed by Governor Rendell. Our agencies have been flat funded since day one of this administration, so we've actually been paying for our own raises through the loss of staff for the last 6 years."

Jellison pointed out that the Rendell Administration has spent hundreds of millions of dollars on private contractors for work that can be done by state employees. She said that the Union has repeatedly made suggestions for cost-cutting measures that would save taxpayer dollars, but the Governor has ignored them.

"It is time for this administration to open the books and disclose the huge amounts of taxpayer money being wasted on private contractors," said Jellison. "Our members can do this work more efficiently -- and at a lower cost to the taxpayers. There is no justification for these private contracts, when our members can do a better job and have more experience at providing the same services. We believe this is why vital human services have not been fully funded in Pennsylvania."

As one example, Jellison pointed to a state contact with the University of Massachusetts to identify Medicare recipients. "Payments are being made by the state under this contract that equal between $285 and over $500 for each recipient the University identifies," she said. "Yet our members can do this exact same work for approximately 37 cents per recipient if given the proper tools."

Jellison also pointed to over $300 million paid to Deloitte Consulting, a firm with ties to top officials in the Rendell Administration, for work done in the Department of Public Welfare, some of which was previously handled by state employees.

"Our agencies provide services to needy families, the elderly and disabled, the unemployed, the mentally ill and mentally retarded, emergency services, youth and children," said Jellison. "In addition, our members are trained to help prevent fraud and, as a result, have saved taxpayers an average of over $26 million annually in addition to awards for efficiency and delivery of Food Stamps, $4.6 million last year alone."

Jellison called upon the Governor to sit down with SEIU Local 668 and other state unions and implement some of their suggestions to help close the budget shortfall without cutting vital services.

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