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Other Budget Issues

Last Updated: 5/28/2015
Budget Issue: Administration proposes to end use of authorizing limited term position authority in budget.
Program: Position Authority
Finding or Recommendation: Changing state’s policies for short-term employment or personnel funding warrant thorough consideration.
Further Detail

Limited Term Positions. The state’s existing policies related to limited term positions and appointments are based on statute and past interpretations of the state’s civil service system issued by the State Personnel Board and the courts. These policies generally (1) limit the number of years that an individual may be appointed to a limited term position for up to two years and (2) provide individuals employed in limited term positions a lesser degree of civil service protections than are afforded to employees in permanent positions.

Tool for Legislative Oversight. Separate from the civil service rules described above, the Legislature long has authorized position authority and funding for those positions on a limited term basis in some cases as a means to maintain legislative oversight. Authorizing positions and funding on a limited term basis provides an important legislative check on executive power as it requires the administration to justify the continued appropriation of resources. This particularly is important in the case of short-term projects or the implementation of new programs on a trial basis.

Creates Workforce Management Issues. The administration often says that it is difficult to recruit and retain employees for limited term positions because people prefer the security that is afforded to employment in a permanent position. Especially in the case of information technology projects, the use of limited term positions is cited as a major hindrance to recruiting and retaining qualified candidates.


As part of his 2015-16 May Revision, the Governor proposes that the state no longer authorize limited term positions in the budget. Instead, the Legislature would authorize limited term funding that departments would use to ramp-up staffing levels within existing permanent position authority. Under this proposal, any future departmental request for positions would be for permanent position authority.

LAO Comments

We agree that the state may wish to consider changing how it authorizes short-term employment; however, this is a significant policy change that affects legislative power over how the state manages its workforce and funds short-term programs. We think any proposal to change how the Legislature authorizes limited term positions and funding warrants legislative consideration beyond what may be possible in the last remaining weeks of budget deliberations. Further, it is confusing to implement this change in policy through the May Revision. As part of his budget proposal in January, the Governor requested a number of positions be authorized as limited term positions. Therefore, if the Legislature approves this proposal now, Should it reconsider the limited term positions it has approved as part of the 2015-16 budget?