Analysis: Increased state jobs may be overstated |

Analysis: Increased state jobs may be overstated

In the Republican quest to show that Democratic Gov. Bill Ritter has mishandled the state budget, no GOP criticism has hit him harder than the contention that Ritter has hired 4,000 employees since taking office.

Republican lawmakers have repeated the assertion over the past year, and it has become a key talking point for Senate Minority Leader Josh Penry, R-Grand Junction, as he runs for governor.

But an analysis of GOP claims shows Republicans are counting many state workers over which Ritter and lawmakers have little say in hiring, firing or furloughing.

And in some areas of state government where Ritter did add employees, he often did so at the direction of lawmakers from both parties – including Penry.

Ritter points out that since taking office, the number of employees he has added to executive branch agencies, over which he has direct control, is 645. That’s a 2.5 percent increase since he took office.

Ritter said he’s heard the 4,000 added jobs figure used repeatedly in recent months at public events, and it’s starting to make him angry.

“It is totally irresponsible for the minority leader of the Senate, who has this information at his fingertips, to use an inflated figure that is so far off,” Ritter said.

“I think it’s fair in the political realm to take off the gloves and debate policy, but to pander to people’s worst thoughts about government by providing this kind of inaccurate information is just the worst kind of politics.”

Penry has used the figure in public speeches and in media interviews, and it’s on his campaign website.

“Ritter has also added 4,000 jobs to state government in three years, and you can’t spend money fixing a bridge and keeping college affordable by hiring all those people. This guy has frittered the money away,” Penry’s website quotes him as saying.

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