Employment at the state University of New York and the City University of New York soared over the past decade, up nearly 9 percent at SUNY schools to 71,312 employees, and up 30 percent at CUNY to 29,282 workers.
A review by Gannett’s Albany bureau found that from 2001 through 2010, the overall state workforce dropped by just 420 employees, or 0.2 percent, to a total of 266,816 full- and part-time workers.
But employment at the state University of New York and the City University of New York soared over the past decade, up nearly 9 percent at SUNY schools to 71,312 employees, and up 30 percent at CUNY to 29,282 workers. School officials said the growth was caused by record student enrollment.
“This is a time of crisis for our state, a time when we must transform our government to once again become the progressive capital of our nation and to seize the moment of opportunity that is before us,” Cuomo said during his State of the State address in January.
The numbers of employees in state government vary depending on which agency is doing the counting.
Cuomo’s budget estimates that the state would have 190,465 employees at the beginning of this fiscal year. That number is only for full-time employees and includes state agencies, SUNY, the Comptroller’s Office and Attorney General’s Office. It doesn’t include the state Legislature or the judiciary, which are independent branches of government.
But the figures from the Comptroller’s Office obtained by Gannett include full- and part-time workers in all branches of state government, giving a broader look at who collected a paycheck on the taxpayers’ dime over the past decade.
For example, the number of employees with the Office of Court Administration, which oversees the judiciary, grew by 1,400 employees over the last decade, an increase of 8 percent. The Legislature decreased staff by 200 employees over the 10 years, a dip of 5 percent.
The numbers also reflect the difficulty a governor has in reining in the size of the state workforce. Cuomo’s budget estimates he has control over 126,634 state employees — less than half of the number of people who collected a paycheck in 2010.
SUNY officials attributed the growth in employment to the growth in student enrollment. But the increase in employees in recent years also came as SUNY protested state aid cuts of $1 billion and raised tuition.
The data show that from 2009 to 2010, the SUNY system lowered its number of employees by 500, a 0.7 percent decrease. Still, SUNY has the most employees among state agencies, growing by 5,756 over the past decade.
SUNY spokesman Morgan Hook said enrollment over the past 10 years grew 25 percent, by roughly 93,000, to 468,000 students.
The state Department of Corrections had the second-most employees in the state, at 30,650 employees, a 1.3 percent decrease since 2009, but a 7 percent decrease since 2001.
The decline in corrections employees comes as the state’s prison population has fallen from a peak of 71,600 in 1999 to about 56,000 now. Cuomo wants to reduce the prisons by 3,500 beds, likely meaning the closure of six prisons, which are mainly upstate.
“When you reduce administration, you reduce a bloated bureaucracy.