Ohio implements a state government hiring freeze, other spending cuts amid COVID-19 outbreak

(The Center Square) – Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine is putting in place a hiring freeze for all agencies, boards and commissions under his control as part of the state’s COVID-19 response.

There are 442 confirmed cases of COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, in Ohio, officials said on Monday. A total of 104 people are hospitalized in Ohio, and the state has reported six deaths.

On Sunday, Ohio officials announced an order mandating residents to stay at home except for “essential activities.” The “Stay at Home” order closes all nonessential businesses and takes effect at 11:59 p.m. Monday and remains in effect until 11:59 p.m. April 6, unless state officials alter it.

“Commercial activity is slowing down across Ohio, and as a result, state revenues will also go down dramatically,” DeWine said in a statement.

“It is important, as Governor, that I take action now,” DeWine added. “The earlier we start slowing down the spending, the more impact it will have.”

The only exceptions are for safety positions, direct care or institutional service roles and those directly responding to the pandemic. In addition to the hiring freeze, DeWine announced a freeze on pay increases and promotions for unclassified and exempt staff in the state.

Meanwhile, the state is freezing new contract services unless they are deemed necessary for the emergency response. The governor also asked state agencies to cut “unnecessary spending” by up to 20 percent for both the remainder of the current fiscal year and next fiscal year.

DeWine also ordered child care facilities that are open to give priority to the families on the front line of the COVID-19 fight, including the children of healthcare workers and first responders.

“The truth is: The most important thing we can all do right now is stay at home unless you are absolutely essential to those lifelines of food, water, transportation, our frontline workers,” DeWine said on Twitter. “This is the real world we are living in.”

Earlier Monday, The free market Buckeye Institute urged state officials to universally recognize out-of-state medical licenses and avoid tax increases and tax code changes in response to the COVID-19 outbreak.

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