Senators call for hiring freeze

Posted: Thursday, March 28, 2002

JUNEAU (AP) -- The state Senate officially asked Gov. Tony Knowles to freeze state hiring Wednesday, but the governor does not intend to heed the request.

Senators voted 15-5 in favor of Senate Concurrent Resolution 29, which urges the governor to stop hiring people to fill non-emergency state jobs that are paid for with state general funds. The measure is not binding.

Supporters said the hiring freeze is needed because the state is facing a projected gap between spending and revenues of about $1 billion this year and next year.

Sen. Pete Kelly, R-Fairbanks, said he's not blaming the administration alone for the budget gap.

''We're just saying there's a problem. It requires a management response,'' Kelly said.

Sen. Kim Elton, D-Juneau, argued against the resolution, calling it an indiscriminate cut that doesn't prioritize services.

All Democrats except Donny Olson of Nome voted against the resolution.

Sen. Robin Taylor, R-Ketchikan, voted for it, but said he doubted Knowles would even read the resolution.

Knowles' spokesman Bob King said the governor will read the resolution, but he has no plans to impose a hiring freeze.

King said a hiring freeze would do little to bridge a $1 billion budget gap and would prevent the state from effectively delivering services.

The governor has proposed, instead, raising about $400 million through a state income tax, a cruise ship head tax and an increase in the alcohol tax.

The measure must still go through the House before reaching the governor's desk.

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