By Dan Carden, Times of Northwest Indiana

INDIANAPOLIS | Gov. Mitch Daniels' budget ax fell Friday on 33 employees laid off by the Indiana Department of Administration.

Most of the laid-off workers had jobs managing public works construction projects, said Mark Everson, commissioner of the Department of Administration.

"As the governor's already indicated, the state's going to slim down the number of projects it's doing because of the revenue situation. So the people who are actually participating in running the projects, we're reducing that staff accordingly," Everson said.

Other laid-off workers had jobs maintaining the Statehouse and government center campus in Indianapolis.

The layoffs are expected to save $900,000 through the end of the fiscal year in June.

Some workers only received notice Friday that it would be their last day. The rest will hand their duties off to other state workers before formally losing their job over the next two weeks. State employees are not unionized.

These workers are the first to feel the pinch from the governor's latest mandatory 5 percent cut in state agency budgets, but they're likely not the last.

Continuing declines in state revenue led Daniels to order the cut. Each agency had to decide how to manage its cut.

Daniels said last week he hoped agencies could avoid employee layoffs but didn't know if that would be possible.

Everson and the governor both said laid-off employees would have first priority in getting hired for other state jobs they are qualified for.

However, it's not likely there will be many openings.

The latest budget cut comes on top of a 5 percent cut Daniels ordered in July. In addition, state agency budgets were reduced from the previous year's level when the state budget was approved in June.

State agencies today are working with only 80 percent of the funds they had in July 2008.

Since January, the Department of Administration has eliminated 50 positions, or about 20 percent of its staff, due to a lack of funds. The agency will have 209 employees after the layoffs are complete, Everson said.

The governor said his intention is to protect public safety and public education above all else. He also said he won't raise taxes to cover revenue shortfalls.

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