States employ 19 million workers - 15 percent of the nation’s workforce and six times as many workers as the federal government employs, according to the State Budget Crisis Task Force.
Salaries and benefits for those employees account for around 30 percent of the state general fund in most states. Benefits alone accounting for more than a third of that cost, meaning that about 10 percent of state general fund expenditures now go to benefits for currently employed workers, many of whom are represented by unions. The cost is growing at a rate that cannot be sustained. To have any hope of achieving fiscal health in the future, states will need to redesign their benefit systems and evaluate state employee salaries.