Washington's governor freezes hiring as tax revenues fall

Gov. Chris Gregoire ordered an immediate hiring freeze in state agencies Monday morning that is designed to save $90 million over the next fiscal year.

She also announced a clampdown on out-of-state travel and personal service contracts with exceptions for emergencies.

Details of the move were announced in a conference call from the Governor's Office to Washington State agency leaders. A formal announcement is in the works, Gregoire's budget spokesman Glenn Kuper said.

"It's across the board except for exemptions for certain public safety positions," said Kuper, who works in the governor's Office of Financial Management. That exempt list includes prison guards and other public safety positions deemed sensitive.

The call to freeze was spurred by slowing tax collections.

"We've been watching it closely. The thing that triggered action now was the collection decrease for June … that came out in mid-July. We are seeing there is a slowdown in collections," Kuper said. "That was the primary motivation for acting now."

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