Legislative Republicans again leaped on the political opportunity provided by a recent pessimistic economic forecast, calling on Gov. Bill Ritter to suspend all hiring by state agencies.
The comments by members of the capitol's GOP caucuses follows the release earlier this week of an economic forecast by the Office of Legislative Council, which shows that the state will have about $300 million less in revenue this fiscal year than had been anticipated when the annual budget was adopted by the General Assembly last spring.
"Republicans voted against the budget because it was flat-out irresponsible to hire new government employees during tenuous economic times," said Sen. Josh Penry, R-Fruita. "Every dollar the governor spends growing government payroll is a dollar that will be cut from higher education, transportation or health care programs."
Other Republicans pointed out the precedent set by former Gov. Bill Owens.
"We've been down this road before, and Gov. Owens took bold steps during the interim to put the brakes on government spending," Sen. Greg Brophy, R-Wray, said.
About 2,500 people have been added to the state payroll since Ritter became governor, according to a GOP news release.
Spokespersons for the Senate and House Democratic caucuses or for the governor were not available to comment on the GOP request for a hiring freeze.