Gov. Bobby Jindal is ordering a hiring freeze less than a week into the state spending year.
Jindal announced an executive order Thursday limiting new hires across state government, except for patient care and law enforcement.
The governor stated in the order that he hopes to save $17 million through the freeze, which will be in place until June 30, 2012. It replaces a previous hiring freeze that expired June 30.
He said the new freeze is necessary “to limit or control the growth in government positions and to prepare for the budget challenges in the ensuing years.”
The governor is allowing higher education officials to control their hiring practices.
Other state leaders will have to obtain an exemption from Commissioner of Administration Paul Rainwater to hire workers.
As commissioner, Rainwater oversees the daily operations of state government for the governor.
Rainwater said the goal is to control costs.
“We wanted to set the tone for the year,” he said.
The new fiscal year began July 1 with a $25 billion state operating budget.
Rainwater said the Jindal administration is not expecting a drop in the revenue that is needed to pay the state’s expenses.
The state budget is built on economists’ projections of what they expect revenue collections to be. Sometimes, those projections fall short.
Rainwater said the administration wants to shrink state government as much as possible.
The new budget already calls for roughly 3,500 positions to be eliminated. About 950 of those are filled.
The Governor’s Office of Homeland Security, the Department of Public Safety and the Office of Juvenile Justice are consolidating what are characterized as “back office” tasks. State Police now will handle human resources, information technology and finance work for the three agencies, reducing how many workers are needed.
The governor began the recently wrapped-up fiscal year with a similar hiring freeze.
Toward the end of the fiscal year, he called for a halt in travel and supplies purchases at the request of state Rep. Jim Fannin, D-Jonesboro and chairman of the House Appropriations Committee.
Like other states, Louisiana is feeling the effects of the recession.
Fannin said Thursday that the latest freeze is appropriate.
“I think that’s the way that positions don’t get filled unless they absolutely need it,” he said.
Fannin said the freeze forces state agencies to justify the need for adding to the state government work force.
He said the state worked through a lot of its financial problems, including what was once projected as a $1.6 billion shortfall in the current fiscal year.
However, Fannin said the state is not in the clear yet.
“We need to continue to hold a tight rein,” he said.