Facing budget deficits, several new Republican governors instituted state employee hiring freezes this week shortly after taking office.
“The government can’t take on any new expenses when we can’t afford the ones we already have,” Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey said Monday at the state of the state address in Phoenix. Arizona’s freeze will have exemptions for “vital areas” including public safety, he said.
Ducey, Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker, Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner, and Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson all announced freezes in addition to other budget measures.
“Every dollar that we spend unnecessarily in government cannot be used to help our most vulnerable citizens,” Rauner said. “We must take every step necessary to ensure Illinois becomes the most compassionate and competitive state in the nation.”
Rauner’s first executive order, signed two days after taking office, halted hiring, as well as discretionary spending, and called for state agencies to sell surplus property.
“Years of bad decisions have put Illinois in a financial crisis,” Rauner said in a statement. “Today, we start the process of putting our state back on the road to fiscal stability by reviewing agency spending, stopping contracts and grants, and selling excess state property.”
Baker announced a hiring freeze in Massachusetts last week with exemptions for law enforcement, nurses, and social workers. In addition, he called for a review of all departments in the first 100 days.
Arkansas’ hiring freeze, signed in an executive order by Hutchinson his second day of office, requires state agencies to receive approval from the governor’s office. Exemptions are made for legislative, judicial, and federal hirings, as well as the offices of the governor, lieutenant governor, attorney general, secretary of state, auditor, land commissioner, treasurer, highway and transportation departments, and game and fish commission.
This post has been updated.