Gov. Brown freezes statewide hiring

by
February 16, 2011

By Anthony York, Los Angeles Times

Reporting from Sacramento —Gov. Jerry Brown froze statewide hiring Tuesday to help cut the cost of government hours after he dropped a legal effort to reduce government workers’ wages.

Brown did not specify how much the hiring freeze would save. In a statement, he described it as part of a larger effort to cut $363 million from California’s bureaucracy. The governor relies on that reduction in his proposed budget but does not say how it will be achieved.

“We have a $25-billion deficit, and we must do everything possible to save money and make government leaner and more efficient,” Brown said in the statement.

Before the announcement, the governor quietly abandoned an effort by his predecessor to lower state workers’ paychecks to the federal minimum wage during a budget impasse.

The two developments illustrate Brown’s continuing quest to cultivate a frugal image, highlighting only actions that reinforce that theme. The hiring freeze was trumpeted with a news release from the governor’s office, even though it contained few specifics and Brown’s office could provide no further details about the fiscal benefit.

By contrast, the administration gave no notice of Brown’s decision to abandon the lawsuit — a move considered a victory for government employees — and all questions about the decision were deflected to the state personnel agency.

As Brown calls for millions in cuts to state agencies, compensation of state workers continues to climb. The state payroll will be $15 billion in the next budget year, according to figures from Brown’s office. That’s an increase of nearly $640 million over last year.

Past governors have tried to curb hiring, with limited success. Gov. Gray Davis announced a halt in 2001 but exempted his office, the Legislature, the judiciary and health and safety agencies. State employment rolls grew by more than 6,500 people in the next six months.

To read more, visit: http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-brown-hiring-freeze-20110216,0,1170477.story

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