Calif gov. freezes hiring, drops minimum wage suit

Posted: February 16, 2011 in Local OC/LA News

JUDY LIN
Associated Press
February 16, 2011

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) – Gov. Jerry Brown on Tuesday ordered a state government hiring freeze amid California’s $26.6 billion fiscal crisis, hours after he dropped a lawsuit filed by former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger over whether the governor has the authority to pay state workers minimum wage.

Brown announced what he said was a comprehensive hiring freeze that applies to vacant, seasonal, full-time and part-time positions. The administration estimates the freeze, along with other cost-cutting efforts like reducing the number of state-issued cell phones, will save $363 million in the fiscal year that begins July 1, about $200 million of which will be in general fund savings.

“We must do everything possible to save money and make government leaner and more efficient,” the Democratic governor said in a statement.

Brown is allowing for certain exemptions that are critical to public safety, revenue collection and other core functions. An example includes positions that respond to disasters or life-threatening situations. He also will continue to make senior-level appointments to form his new administration.

According to the state controller’s office, California had about 234,000 employees as of Jan. 31.

Hiring freezes aren’t new in California. Schwarzenegger ordered a state hiring freeze and payroll cuts to conserve cash as California struggled with a $42 billion budget deficit back in 2008. He also imposed days off without pay, which became known as “furlough Fridays.”

As part of his budget, Brown has proposed a 10 percent pay cut for union-represented state employees that have yet to reach a contract with the state. Other bargaining units have already agreed to pay cuts.

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