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Caprio budget plan thin on specifics

September 29, 2010

Frank Caprio held a newser outside the state Department of Administration this morning to talk up a five-point plan — headlined “A Relentless Focus on Efficiency” in his news release — for improving the state’s budget outlook.

The five components, as outlined in the handout: 1) cutting the number of state departments; 2) eliminating waste and duplication; 3) enhancing fiscal oversight of state departments; 4) awarding compensation increases to management employees on performance, rather than “being there”; and 5) mixing a smaller pension plan with “a modest 401k-style plan.”

Caprio says his initiatives could produce first-year savings of $150 million. But he declined to get more specific when reporters pressed on exactly how the savings would be achieved, or which state departments he would eliminate or merge:

That’s going to be a process that once I’m elected, we’re going to put together a new team. We’re going to go department by department, and based on what I’ve already done in Treasury — where we did this — and it’s a continous process. It’s not something  that overnight where you wave a magic wand, and these things happen. But you have the vision of making major changes, doing things in a more efficient way, and bringing in people that are really going to drive the process to save money on the bottom line.

The ProJo’s Kathy Gregg:

Can you give us any specifics, because every candidate is saying something similar. So to distinguish you, what exactly is your plan?

Caprio pointed to his work as treasurer, where he said pension fund management fees had been cut by close to $15 million over the last three years, and the cost of an office lease is on track to be sliced from $600,000 to $80,000 when he leaves his current job. Caprio added:

You got to look at what the plan and the vision is. I’m not laying out today all the X, Ys, and Zs of it, because we’re not there yet, and I don’t have all the details at my disposal to decide where things major savings can be effectuated, but I know they can be, because people said the same thing when I got elected treasurer and here we are leaving office. In the pension area alone, we have a fund that’s outperforming the funds in Massachusetts, California, and the Harvard endowment, and we’re doing it for about half the expense from when we came into office.

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