The state government hiring freeze that had been in effect for more than a year was lifted by Delaware Gov. Ruth Ann Minner on Tuesday, Dec. 16, 2003, after improved revenue forecasts were released.
The move will allow state government agencies to begin to fill 1,559 vacant positions that had been subject to the freeze since September 2002.
Gov. Minner has asked agencies to phase in the filling of positions with priority on jobs that affect the public. She also directed in a memo to cabinet secretaries that they work within agency budgets.
The 1,559 positions released from the freeze Tuesday are in addition to 624 positions at 24-hour institutions, such as hospitals and prisons, which were released from the freeze on Nov. 19.
"The forecast from the Delaware Economic and Financial Advisory Committee has indicated that Delaware's economy is coming out of recession and that our revenues will stabilize and improve over the coming year," Gov. Minner said. "The hiring freeze was an important cost-saving measure for the last 15 months, saving the state approximately $15 million. I thank both state employees and the public for accepting the hiring freeze as necessary."
Agencies must submit their plans for phased hiring to the budget and personnel offices. During the period when the freeze was imposed, Gov. Minner approved filling vacancies in critical areas, such as prison guards and nurses. Also, Gov. Minner eliminated 431 vacant positions from the state General Fund in June for a permanent savings of $6 million.
Gov. Minner also reacted more generally to Monday's DEFAC news, saying that even with a strengthening economy, she will build the Fiscal Year 2005 budget – to be presented Jan. 29 – with restraint.
"If you look over the last 25 years in Delaware at the first budget after economic recessions, the growth in the budget has been on the order of 8 to 11 percent due to pent-up demands and budget cuts being restored," Gov. Minner said. "You will not see a budget proposal from this Governor with growth of that magnitude.
"Over the last three years, we have cut the budget repeatedly without drastically affecting services by finding innovative ways to make government more efficient and doing more with less. Those were wise moves regardless of the economic climate. As we go forward, we will continue to be as fiscally responsible in good times as we were in tough times."