Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Hiring Freeze Stays for State Employees

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Hiring Freeze Stays for State Employees

Article excerpt

Gov. Frank Keating on Thursday ordered a freeze on hiring new state employees to continue for the next six months.

No new hires or promotions will occur without approval from a cabinet secretary, Keating told reporters during a general news conference. Tom Daxon, Keating's secretary of state finance, will be able to overrule other cabinet secretaries who OK new hires or promotions.

The hiring freeze was begun during the Walters administration.

Keating's announcement that he will extend the hiring freeze comes on the heels of a decision by the University Hospitals Authority to lay off 359 employees and eliminate 265 vacant positions at three state health facilities by the end of February.

O'Donoghue Rehabilitation Institute will close, and the remaining staff cuts will be made at University Hospital and Children's Hospital. The cuts at the three Oklahoma City facilities are posed to save $16.7 million.

The Oklahoma Public Employees Association on Thursday issued a statement calling the cuts, particularly those associated with the closure of O'Donoghue, "deplorable."

Keating said the cuts are an "unpleasant scenario," but O'Donoghue has seen a "significant drop off in its patient load."

"The State of Oklahoma can't keep open a health care establishment that isn't serving a large population," he said.

"The reality is they have a $17 million shortfall. . .and they must do something immediately."

When asked whether he would approve selling one or more of the health facilities, he said, "I would consider anything to ensure the viability and survival of the Oklahoma University medical school and the teaching function. …

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