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California imposes hiring freeze on all government agencies

By Michael Martinez, CNN
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • California Governor Jerry Brown says his state is facing a $25 billion budget hole
  • The freeze will be in effect until $363 million in savings is achieved for next fiscal year

Los Angeles (CNN) -- Rolling out more draconian measures to deal with a $25 billion budget deficit, California Governor Jerry Brown imposed a statewide hiring freeze Tuesday across all government agencies.

"We must do everything possible to save money and make government leaner and more efficient," Brown said in a statement.

The comprehensive freeze applies to vacant, seasonal and full- and part-time jobs, and even prohibits the hiring of outside contractors or transferring employees between agencies or department, he said in a statement. It also prevents part-time posts from being converted to full-time positions.

The goal of the freeze will be to save money this fiscal year and reduce operational costs next fiscal year by $363 million, Brown said.

"The hiring freeze will be in effect until agencies and departments prove that they can achieve these savings," Brown said.

In a prior executive order earlier this year, Brown ordered cutting in half the number of state employees' cell phones paid for by taxpayers, for a projected savings of $20 million, said Elizabeth Ashford, a Brown spokeswoman.

The state is also cutting in half its fleet of 11,000 passenger vehicles and light trucks, which is expected to produce savings of $16.5 million, Ashford said.

Last week, Brown canceled the proposed sale of 11 government buildings, an Arnold Schwarzenegger initiative that Brown called "shortsighted."

Brown, a Democrat, said his Republican predecessor's plan to sell and then lease back the 11 properties would have cost taxpayers $6 billion over the next 35 years.

"Selling and leasing back the state's buildings for one-time gains is not prudent," Brown said in a statement.

Shortly after being sworn in last month, Brown announced an austere budget plan that slashes $12.5 billion in spending and extends $12 billion in tax hikes.

The cuts would hit the state's neediest and state workers the hardest. Some public employees would lose up to 10% of their take-home pay, and the state's Medicaid and welfare program would see a $3.2 billion cut.

Brown is faced with a $25.4 billion shortfall in the budget over the next 18 months. He complained that "budget gimmicks and tricks" had pushed the state deep into debt.