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New England News

Baker Orders Hiring Freeze, Agency Reviews To Help Close Budget Gap

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Jim Levulis
/
WAMC

Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker has announced his first steps toward closing a budget gap he believes exceeds a half billion dollars.In a memo to agency heads and cabinet secretaries, Baker announced a hiring freeze effectively immediately for unfilled positions with exceptions in law enforcement, healthcare and social work. The administration estimates the move will save $6.5 million in fiscal 2015. Baker said closing the budget gap was a top priority in his inaugural address Thursday, ruling out tax increases and cuts to local aid.

“Otherwise, everything’s on the table,” said Baker during his speech Thursday.

Baker has also directed agency heads to conduct 100-day budget and performance reviews.

Baker has scheduled three stops in Berkshire County Saturday, his first trip to the region as governor.

Governor Baker will visit MASS MoCA in North Adams before heading to Pittsfield in the afternoon. There the Republican will stop at Solider On, a veterans housing and care organization. State Senator Ben Downing, a Democrat, says he is looking forward to the governor’s visit.

“He’s going to find a region that’s committed to working with him just as we worked with Governor [Deval] Patrick over these last eight years,” said Downing.

Baker is also scheduled to meet with area business leaders at the Berkshire Museum. Roughly two-thirds of county voters backed Baker’s Democratic opponent Martha Coakley, a Berkshire native, in November’s election.  

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