Brownback administration lays off 85 Kansas Dept. of Labor employees

Dept. of Labor says layoffs are ‘fiscal necessity’

Gov. Sam Brownback’s administration on Friday laid off 85 state employees at the Kansas Department of Labor.

A statement released by KDOL states: “Fiscal necessity requires that KDOL make the very difficult decision to reduce its workforce. Decisions by the prior administration to utilize one-time funds for ongoing personnel and administrative costs and reduced funding from the federal government have contributed to the need for this decision.”

With the layoffs, the agency, which among other jobs administers unemployment compensation, would have about 430 employees, said KDOL spokesman Matt Manda.

Sherriene Jones-Sontag, a spokeswoman for Brownback, said state employee layoffs also were the result of Cabinet secretaries working on efficiencies, and responding to budget cuts.

“Secretaries have been looking, for five months, at how agencies are structured, to make agencies more efficient and responsive, and now they are beginning to implement those plans,” she said.

KDOL is led by Secretary Karin Brownlee, a Republican appointed by Brownback who took office in January.

Senate Democratic Leader Anthony Hensley of Topeka said he was not convinced that layoffs were necessary.

“For a governor that is advocating the creation of jobs, to me it seems contrary to that goal is to be laying off people,” Hensley said. “Previous administrations have been successful in preventing layoffs.”

During the just completed legislative session, Brownlee had sought legislation that would have made all employees at the Labor Department unclassified workers who would serve at the pleasure of the secretary and not have Civil Service protections. Legislators, however, didn’t approve the measure.

Since Brownback took office in January, there has also been a large number of terminations at the Kansas Department of Social and Rehabilitation Services, although many of those employees have been replaced with new hires. SRS has declined repeated requests to say how many have been laid off and how many have been hired.