OKLAHOMA CITY -Today the Chairman of the State Senate's Business and Labor Committee called for Governor Frank Keating's reconsideration of the ongoing state hiring freeze.
Senator Lewis Long pointed to a Senate study he requested on the implications of the freeze which shows that savings from the freeze have been offset by a 65 percent increase in contracts with temporary workers.
"The governor is blindly renewing the hiring freeze without looking at the cost-benefits. Any savings from hiring fewer state employees have probably been wiped out by increasing private contracts by $67 million," said Long, D-Glenpool. "And, we're replacing full-time employees with temps who do the same work for less pay and few benefits, if any.
"If the Governor is truly concerned about raising Oklahoma's per capita income, this is an opportunity for him to have a direct impact. We can stop replacing high-paid workers with low-paid temporary ones."
Long said temps do have a legitimate place in state government, but it's not filling permanent positions. He used the Oklahoma Tax Commission as an example of both the good and bad use of temporary employees.
"During tax season the Tax Commission hires about 300 seasonal workers, they stay on during the busiest time of the year. This is a great example of how temporary workers should be used," he said. "The problem is the Tax Commission has another 100 temps on its payroll year round filling permanent positions."
Long said the state must find the most efficient methods possible to find, develop and retain the best employees for the taxpayers of Oklahoma.
"We get good workers from temp agencies, but they have no incentive to stay," he said. " As soon as they find a job with benefits, they're gone and the taxpayers are forced to pay to retrain another temp. It's an ongoing cycle."
Long said if the Governor refuses to reconsider the hiring freeze, he may introduce legislation to deal with the problem during the coming legislative session.