State Capitol News
3:56 am
Thu February 21, 2008

State House Passes Hiring Freeze

Phoenix, AZ – The House of Representatives voted Wednesday to immediately
freeze virtually all new hiring in state and university
government. Arizona Public Radio's Howard Fischer reports that
sets the stage for a showdown with Gov. Janet Napolitano.


Rep. Bob Robson said the state needs some immediate action to
deal with a deficit now approaching $1.2 billion. Yet Robson said
there are 300 active job listings on the state's web site. And
that doesn't even count the universities which do their own
hiring.

(The first thing you do in helping to manage a business is that
you look and you try and preserve the employees you have. And the
other is to not to bring on added debt, or at least freeze it
along the line, step back, take a deep breath, see where you need
to be, see where your priorities need to be.)

But the governor said she's already directed state agency chiefs
in September to fill only those jobs which are necessary.
Napolitano acknowledged that from Oct. 1 until the middle of this
month there were 274 more people hired than quit. But she said
those figures are misleading.

(What you're mixing up are vacancies with actual hires. And to
the extent there are new hires, they are in the fields of public
safety, for example, where the Legislature expressly allocated
and funded new positions to account for growth.)

The measure has some flexibility, allowing agencies to seek
exemptions for critical jobs. This is more than a partisan fight:
Eight of the 23 Democrats on the floor also voted for the hiring
freeze even in the face of a possible veto.

For Arizona Public Radio, this is Howard Fischer.