LINCOLN , Ne. — Governor Pete Ricketts this week delivered an update on a state hiring freeze which has reduced the size and scope of the state’s workforce. Starting in October 2016, the hiring freeze has targeted the reduction of non-essential state jobs as a tool to help the state manage budget reductions and make more efficient use of taxpayer dollars.
“During times of budget restraint, my administration is successfully controlling state spending by eliminating non-essential positions through attrition and retirement,” said Governor Ricketts. “We’re working to exercise the same fiscal responsibility shown by Nebraskans in their households by doing more with less in state government. It’s the right thing to do.”
The headcount in the Governor’s agencies was 13,786 in October 2016, and had been reduced to 13,302 as of December 1, 2017. Overall to date, there are 484 fewer personnel working in the Governor’s agencies, which is more than 3.5 percent fewer than October 2016.
This count exempts National Guard who were on temporary deployment for hurricane relief efforts. All guard members previously deployed for relief efforts have returned to the state.
In addition to the reduction in headcount, about 1,500 vacant positions have also been closed.
The hiring freeze will remain in place for the foreseeable future. Select mission critical positions in state agencies, such as Corrections, have been exempted from the hiring freeze to protect key priorities such as protecting public safety and supporting service delivery.
BACKGROUND ON BUDGET RESTRAINT
In October 2017, Governor Ricketts issued a new directive to all state agencies, boards, and commissions ordering continued budget restraint following a meeting of the Nebraska Economic Forecasting Advisory Board (Board). This directive followed a meeting by the Board revising revenue projections for the State of Nebraska downward by $100 million for the current fiscal year and $123 million for the next fiscal year.
The Governor’s directive outlined budget restraint actions covering the following areas:
Reduced Allotments: Quarterly allotments of current appropriations to state agencies, boards, and commissions will be reduced by one percent in the third and fourth quarters to incentivize additional spending restraint and to prepare for possible budget reductions.
Budget Reductions: Agencies have been advised to prepare for budget reductions based on the revised forecast to be presented to the Legislature in the upcoming session.
Spending Restraint: Continuance of his previously ordered hiring freeze, travel ban, limited equipment purchases, and reductions in discretionary grants in aid.