Healey implements ‘hiring controls,’ says they are not a ‘freeze’

Local News

Massachusetts Gov. Maura Healey is imposing strict hiring restrictions as her administration tries to mitigate the impacts of decreased tax revenue.

Gov. Maura Healey. Steven Senne/AP

The Healey administration began imposing hiring restrictions Wednesday as Massachusetts officials work to address the impacts of underwhelming revenue from tax collections. 

The “temporary hiring controls” were outlined in a memo sent to cabinet secretaries and agency heads Tuesday from Interim Chief Human Resources Officer Melissa Pullin. From Wednesday until June 30, hires, rehires, and transfers into Executive Office agencies will only be permitted in certain circumstances, according to the memo, which was obtained by The Boston Herald

The administration has been struggling with lower-than-expected tax revenue collections since last year, and Gov. Maura Healey announced $375 million in spending cuts in January. 

Details on March revenue collections were unveiled Wednesday, with the state actually collecting $129 million more than its projections. Shortly after the spending cuts were revealed in January, the state revised its revenue estimates, lowering the amount of money it expected to collect this fiscal year by $1 billion. 

The data released Wednesday shows that Massachusetts is still $145 million short of its year-to-date benchmark.

Healey pushed back on the characterization of the latest hiring policy as a “hiring freeze” at an unrelated event Wednesday. 

“I’m not imposing a hiring freeze. What I am imposing and what we’re asking our agencies to do, is follow hiring controls to make sure that we’re making the best decisions in terms of spending money for the rest of the fiscal year because I have an obligation to manage within budget,” Healey said, per the Herald

Seasonal hires, positions that must be filled due to a court order or settlement, returns from leave, and new hires who got their offer letters before April 3 are exempt from the policy. New hires in certain areas such as direct care and public safety are also exempt. 

The policy is also restricted to positions using the state’s operating and capital funds. Posted positions paid for with federal or trust account funding are not included. 

“Agencies should immediately pause their hiring processes, including scheduling any new interviews or extending offers,” Pullin wrote in the memo. 

For the job postings that are not exempt from the policy, agencies must either remove the postings and notify applicants or apply for a waiver from the Executive Office for Administration and Finance. Pullin left the door open for these restrictions to be extended if necessary. 

The MassGOP harshly criticized Healey for going on a “hiring spree of bureaucrats earning six-figure salaries” and giving raises to “her already highly paid cabinet.” Chairwoman Amy Carnevale called for members of Healey’s cabinet to return raises they were given this earlier year. 

“Democrats love nothing more than to bash high paid executives for their salaries when their businesses are in trouble. Why don’t Democrats follow their own principles and have their executives take pay cuts for the benefit of the Commonwealth?” Carnevale said in a statement. 

Former Gov. Charlie Baker implemented a hiring freeze about 24 hours after being sworn in. He cited a “spending problem” in 2015. 

Costs are continuing to accumulate for Healey, with the state’s overburdened shelter system set to require $915 million in the next fiscal year. 

“I am requiring that we tighten our own belts and exercise some judgment and fiscal responsibility as we look at the revenue picture and what we have in terms of a remaining deficit before the end of the fiscal year,” Healey told reporters Wednesday, according to the Herald.

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