SALEM — Gov. Kate Brown Thursday ordered a temporary statewide hiring freeze to help address Oregon’s $1.6 billion revenue shortfall.
The executive order was the first of a series scheduled for the next several weeks aimed at cutting expenses and improving efficiency, according to the Governor’s Office.
“Oregon’s children and families deserve the chance to lead healthy and productive lives. But the cuts to the state budget recently proposed by the Legislature put the most vulnerable Oregonians even more at risk than they are now. This is unacceptable,” Brown said in a statement.
The hiring freeze goes into effect immediately and will last until each state department’s budget is approved by the Legislature, according to the Governor’s Office.
The Governor’s Office is still calculating how much the hiring freeze could save, said Brown’s communications director, Chris Pair.
This order also pares spending on state travel expenses and consolidates office space.
Senate Republican Leader Ted Ferrioli of John Day has been calling for a hiring freeze for several weeks. The hiring freeze, if left in effect, could save an estimated $790 million in the next two years, according to the Senate Republican Office. The office based the number on consultation with the Legislative Fiscal Office, according to an email from Paul Rainey, caucus administrator for the Senate Republic Office.
The Department of Corrections, Oregon Youth Authority, Oregon State Hospital and some Department of Human Services divisions would “not be able to freeze,” the email states.
“If these were excluded, the estimate is about $790 million total funds,” according to the email.
“We have options, we have solutions, and we have bills to fix the structural problems plaguing our state’s government. We must move forward with a budget that isn’t a list of red-alert threats. Senate Republicans are committed to listening to Oregonians who have clearly stated, repeatedly, we are not interested in hiking taxes and hurting the poor to satisfy overspending Democrat politicians,” Ferrioli said in a statement.
The governor said she also has plans to issue executive orders to improve debt collection, renegotiate contracts with state vendors, address the unfunded liability in the Public Employees Retirement System and clarify policies regarding bargaining with state employee unions.
“The entire state must take responsibility and join in this effort. I have challenged state agencies to look for both short-term savings and ways to address long-term cost drivers throughout state government. I also encourage the Secretary of State, the State Treasurer, the Attorney General, and the Commissioner of the Bureau of Labor and Industries, as well as the Legislative Assembly and the Judicial Department, to adopt policies that freeze hiring, reduce travel expenditures, and optimize facility usage.