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Indiana freezes much state hiring with coronavirus tax hit

April 24, 2020 GMT

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Indiana’s state government has imposed a widespread hiring freeze and other limits on spending as officials brace for a major financial hit from the coronavirus crisis.

A memo issued this week by the State Budget Agency directs department leaders to take action for reducing expenses, along with no vehicle or furniture purchases.

No state employees have yet been laid off yet, but officials will be looking closely before filling any vacancies, said Cristopher Johnston, director of the state’s Office of Management and Budget.

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“Obviously, there are agencies that are on the front lines with fighting the virus so we will take particular care in looking at their staffing needs,” said Johnston, who is Gov. Eric Holcomb’s top fiscal adviser.

Through February, state revenues were about $100 million better than estimates for the first eight months of the current fiscal year, but came in 6%, or about $70 million, below projections in March. Officials expect a major tax revenue decline for April but haven’t yet given estimates.

“Anticipating what is coming with the downturn in the economy, all the measures in that memo are things that I think have to be considered and are on the table,” Johnston said.