ITD positioned well to weather economic storm
Those of you who have been part of the department very long have experienced the best of times; today, unfortunately, we’re in the midst of some of our most challenging times.
I share your concern as you watch the stock market, the status of the nation’s financial institutions and, closer to home, the economic health of state government in Idaho. As you know, Governor Otter recently asked state agencies that receive funding from the general fund to immediately reduce budgets by 1 percent and to prepare additional plans to cut 1.5 percent and 2.5 percent if such measures become necessary.
Although the transportation department is not directly affected by the holdback, we operate under the same economic conditions as general-fund agencies. We already implemented internal budget cuts based on revenue projections and are prepared to make further reductions, if conditions dictate. It is my hope, and that of the board, that additional cuts will not be necessary, that the economy will improve and revenue will rebound.
That is our hope… that we have reached or are near the bottom of the downturn… that the state, national and global economy is on the road to recovery. Reality reminds us, though, that these times continue to be uncertain.
The good news is that we have not found it necessary to reduce our workforce or freeze hiring for vacant positions that are crucial to our service. I remain optimistic that we will not be forced to take such measures.
I also realize that those of you who are approaching retirement are keeping a wary eye on the Public Employee Retirement System of Idaho – PERSI. That fund and your optional retirement contributions are managed conservatively to weather the kinds of economic storms we have seen recently. Of course, those funds are not immune to the effects of stock market declines, but they should be more resilient than many other retirement plans when we turn the economic corner.
As we wait for better times, it is never more important that we continue to operate in the most efficient manner possible. I challenge each of you to look for ways of working smarter and reducing expenses while maintaining the high level of service you have given consistently in the past.
Transportation remains a vital part of Idaho’s economy. People still need to travel to jobs, school, medical providers and stores. The value of your service has not diminished during these hard economic conditions – in fact it has become even more important to the citizens of Idaho.
Thank you for continuing to provide that service and for being patient as we begin the slow, methodical return to normal.