The proper role and size of government. That's the hot topic at tea party rallies and legislative hearings and in candidate political ads. The rhetoric, however, strays far from reality. So the timing is right for the California Budget Project's just-released report on the state work force. It's a myth buster.
Overall, California has relatively few public employees per capita compared with other states. California actually ranked last among the 50 states in state employees per capita in three years of the 1998-2008 decade. In 2008, California ranked 48th.
But before you dismiss the idea that California has a problem, consider this. While state workers per 1,000 residents has remained stable over 20 years (increasing only slightly from 8.7 per 1,000 Californians to 9.3), some departments have seen steep increases and others have seen declines.
Two examples of decreases: the Department of Food and Agriculture (17 percent) and the department providing services to those with developmental disabilities, cerebral palsy, epilepsy and autism (32 percent).
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