The freeze is the first in a series of planned executive orders over the next few weeks aimed at easing the budget deficit.
The announcement came just one day before the state budget committee plans to announce its detailed proposal for cutting costs. The order will go into effect May 1 and end June 30, unless Brown opts to extend the freeze.
Brown’s order also instructs state agencies to reduce their travel expenses by 10% and review office spaces to cut down when possible.
The announcement didn’t include an estimated savings as a result of the freeze. Gov. Brown’s Press Secretary Chris Pair, said “The Governor’s Office has established a process to track the exact savings to inform budget negotiations.”
Pair did not offer any additional information as to actual savings.
The announcement was a surprise to Patrick Criteser, chair of the Oregon Business Plan. He also called for longer term solutions.
Reining in costs will be difficult for Gov. Brown and legislators, Criteser said. But “ultimately, the cost adjustments must be lasting, not only balancing the next two-year state budget, but also ensuring fiscal integrity over the next decade or more.”
He adds Brown’s statement increases optimism that solutions to the deficit are within reach.
The announcement came just after the Oregon GOP called for a two-year hiring freeze of “non-essential” positions.
Read Brown’s statement below:
“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.
I’m calling for an all-hands-on-deck approach to protect Oregonians from these cuts and address the budget deficit. That’s why I’m taking immediate actions to cut costs and find savings. Today I signed an Executive Order to put a hiring freeze across state agencies until their budgets are approved by the Legislature. This order also reduces state travel expenses and optimizes the use of state office space.
In the coming days I will be making additional announcements on a series of actions to improve overall government finances and operations, including: improvements to collection of debts owed to the state; renegotiation of state vendor price agreements; providing clarity on executive branch policies regarding bargaining with state employee unions; and addressing the unfunded actuarial liability of the Public Employees Retirement System.
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.
In addition, my office is working with the Department of Administrative Services to closely evaluate state agency operations. But, it will clearly not be enough just to tighten our belts. My office will continue to work tirelessly for an efficient, effective, and sustainable state government.”