Ricketts: Budget needs ‘modifications’ to restrain spending

By Joe Harris

New estimates for state tax collections are in.  They’re down.

So what does it mean?

Senators will face a projected shortfall of $195 million in the current 2 year budget when they meet for their session in January.

"We’ll be working on what we can do to make sure we, again, align our new budget forecast with the spending that we’re going to have," Ricketts said Monday.

The governor and other state officials highlighted how they’ve been working to make the taxpayer’s buck go further.

He touted the improvements the Center of Operational Excellence has made on department processes.

"This is really about delivering better customer service to the people that we serve by better processes and be able to control our costs at the same time."

Launched by Ricketts in 2015, the COE has been working with state agencies to train their staff on how to improve government operations, identify waste and improve customer service.

The Department of Labor says, working with the COE, they altered their tax credit application processing, reducing backlog within the department.

The Department of Health and Human Services said by simplifying the nursing application process and creating clear directions, they’ve reduced the processing time from 96 to 40 days.

"In April through June of 2017, approximately 1,100 nurses graduated and applied for licensure," said DHHS Process Improvement Coordinator Seth Fager.  "Streamlining the process to review the applications allows nursing students to take their licensing exams sooner and enter the workforce quicker."

Ricketts said with the improved time, department staff are able to focus on improving other projects and services, along with controlling spending.

He said he’s also working with the legislature on spending control and didn’t rule out tapping into the state’s rainy day fund.