Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin imposes freeze on new hires and salary increases to preserve funds

Associated Press

Gov. Mary Fallin has imposed a moratorium on hiring and pay raises for state workers to preserve taxpayer dollars for state services amid a projected budget shortfall of $300 million for the upcoming year.

Fallin issued an executive order that tightens hiring and wage adjustment practices for employees at all state agencies while still allowing agency directors to manage their workforces to fulfill their missions. Fallin signed the order Friday and made it public Monday.

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"We know there are instances when state agencies need additional personnel, or when good performance merits a pay raise," Fallin said in a statement. "This executive order will require agencies to offer a detailed explanation for personnel spending increases before committing additional taxpayer resources."

Fallin's order extends hiring freezes that have been imposed by previous governors during tight budget years dating back to the early 1990s, said John Estus, spokesman for Secretary of Finance Preston Doerflinger.

"It is often tweaked during revenue challenges like we face today," Estus said. The order tightens hiring requirements and requires agency directors to obtain the approval of the statewide elected official who manages the agency or a cabinet secretary before a new employee or pay raise is approved.

"Some of them may have gotten a little lax over the years," Estus said.

Fallin said every dollar spent in state government needs to be justified.

"As we address the developing budgetary challenges the state faces, it is incumbent upon all public officials to more carefully manage every taxpayer dollar," the governor said.