The state has saved $2.5 million in salaries during the last half of the state’s fiscal year from January 13 to June 30 as a result of a hiring freeze instituted by Gov. Asa Hutchinson, his office announced Tuesday.
Hutchinson’s office said the freeze has resulted in the state having 297 fewer state employees. Positions were frozen an average of 59 days, meaning Hutchinson’s office is reviewing all open positions. His office said 433 freeze requests are pending.
Hutchinson said his first act as governor was to institute the hiring freeze.
“Instead of just filling open vacancies because government had in the past, I wanted my agency directors to determine whether we still needed these positions,” he said in a statement. “In some cases, we did not. In other cases, we restructured to make better use of our personnel and public money. The end result is a savings so far of some $2.5 million. Small things matter — and small things add up quickly.”
Rep. Nate Bell, I-Mena, chairman of the House State Agencies and Governmental Affairs Committee, cheered the news, saying that compared to other states, “we have dramatically more employees, and we pay them dramatically less.”
“That’s been a goal of mine,” Bell said. “I think it’s a way that we can ultimately improve employee pay and overall conditions for the other people. When we look at surrounding states, it’s a model that makes sense. I’ve never been supportive of the idea of big layoffs or that type of thing, but I think using attrition wisely and prioritizing positions, we can get Arkansas to a much more efficient and better compensated workforce.”