Brown Institutes Hiring Freeze, Abandons Minimum Wage Battle
On Tuesday, Gov. Jerry Brown (D) froze hiring of state employees in an effort to reduce government spending, the Los Angeles Times reports.Â He also dropped a lawsuit that sought to let the governor impose the minimum wage for state workers' pay during a budget impasse.
State Hiring Freeze
The governor did not provide details about how much money the hiring freeze would save but said the move was part of a larger effort to cut $363 million from state spending (York, Los Angeles Times, 2/16). California faces an estimated $26.6 billion budget deficit.
Brown's executive order affects 233,000 employees in 150 departments and commissions.
However, the order allows agencies to fill positions that are "critical to public safety, revenue collection and other core functions, in cases where these essential duties cannot be carried out at current staffing levels," according to a release from the Governor's Office (Chang, Sacramento Bee, 2/16). Such positions include responders to disasters or life-threatening situations (Lin, AP/Contra Costa Times, 2/15).
Even with the hiring freeze, Brown's budget proposal could create 460 jobs in the social services and public health sectors, the Sacramento Bee reports (Sacramento Bee, 2/16).
Minimum Wage Lawsuit
Also on Tuesday, Brown abandoned a legal effort by former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) to decrease state workers' paychecks to the federal minimum wage during a budget stalemate.
State employees and public employee unions view Brown's abandoning the lawsuit as a victory.
Lynelle Jolley -- a spokesperson for the Department of Personnel Administration -- said that Brown ended the case because "it was going to a protracted and expensive trial," adding that legal fees reached $928,000 at the end of 2010 (Los Angeles Times, 2/16).
State Controller John Chiang (D) said that temporarily paying state workers the minimum wage "would not have saved the state one penny" but would have caused financial hardship for thousands of families (Lagos, San Francisco Chronicle, 2/16).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.