Legislative Republicans announced Thursday that they will join with Gov. Scott Walker to propose changes to the state’s civil service system to alter how some state employees are hired and fired.
The bill, according to authors state Sen. Roger Roth, R-Appleton, and Assembly Majority Leader Jim Steineke, R-Kaukauna, would speed up the hiring process for positions in state agencies, remove civil service exams in favor of a resume based system of awarding positions and make it clearer which offenses are fireable.
“In 2015, we want to make sure we can attract the best workers to live up to Gov. Robert LaFollete’s motto that the 'best shall serve the state,'” Roth said at a press conference.
Steineke noted that Gov. Scott Walker’s administration helped work on the bill and how it would be implemented. The governor praised the proposal in a statement, saying it will help provide the “highest quality services to our citizens.”
“This legislation will implement common-sense reforms to our recruiting process to get the best in the door and will give state agencies the tools to retain their great employees, as well as to address the bad actors who abuse the system,” Walker said in the statement.
Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, R-Rochester, said that while he hadn’t read all the details of the proposal, he “supports the goals” of the bill and hopes to pass it in the fall.
Democrats criticized the bill as an attack on state employees and said it would lead to corruption. Assembly Minority Leader Peter Barca, D-Kenosha, said that the bill would diminish one of the strongest civil service systems in the nation and “make jaws drop.”
“I predict they will take one of the most extreme civil services approaches,” Barca said.
Democrats also accused Walker of reneging on statements he made during the Act 10 protests in 2011, where he assured state workers’ interests would be protected by a strong civil service system.
"At the public level, it's the government, it's the people, who are the ones who are the employers," Walker said at the time. "Whether someone is in the union or not ... we protect sick leave, vacation time. We protect work rules."
Roth said the bill will be formally introduced early next week.