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Despite open jobs, NM agencies request 1,600 positions


While New Mexico state government continues to struggle to fill open positions, departments are asking lawmakers to fund new ones. Legislators on the Senate Finance Committee Tuesday spitballed potential solutions to the issue.

Nearly 20 percent of state positions are unfilled, according to the Legislative Finance Committee. Despite that, departments are requesting 1,600 additional positions this year.

Director of the State Personnel Office Dylan Lange said the number of filled positions is higher than ever, but the departments keep adding new ones even faster.

“That’s our biggest challenge that we’re seeing that are keeping our vacancy rates up,” he said.

He said the issues at play with the vacancies are complex, including compensation and job satisfaction. His department, the LFC and Department of Finance and Administration are conducting a study to suss it all out.

“It’s as comprehensive as it can be and it will really put the state in a position to bring concrete proposals to you all,” he told the panel of lawmakers.

But it won’t be done until May and lawmakers expressed frustration that means another year until they can take action. Some jumped into problem-solving on their own.

Sen. William Burt (R-Alamogordo) suggested agencies simply turn their vacant positions into the new jobs they need rather than adding more, “so we’re not tying up additional monies.”

“It’s just not an efficient way to run things,” he said.

The state allocated over $213 million last year to positions that remain unfilled, according to the LFC.

Sen. George Muñoz (D-Gallup) went a step further, suggesting the State Personnel Office be dismantled all together, cutting down on bureaucracy by giving departments power over their own hiring.

Lange defended the need for his already-downsized department, adding that it has given agencies more autonomy in recent years and is not waiting on the study to take any steps it can to make a dent in the vacancies.

This story was published online by Source New Mexico, a nonprofit news organization, under a Creative Commons license.