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Tuesday, October 6, 2015

 11:24 AM 

Walker administration officials back civil service changes

Walker administration officials backed the proposed civil service changes with DFI Secretary Ray Allen arguing the package will expedite due process for state employees who should be terminated.

Allen said the process can now drag on with employees sometimes having three stops within their own agencies -- supervisor, manager and upper management -- before it moves on.

Allen said speeding it up will help reach a resolution, which in turns helps those state workers who have to fill the void while someone is on administrative leave. That job can't be filled, he said, until the termination is upheld.

“It’s due process," Allen said. "They've got their rights. But the agency, once we’ve made a decision, we’ve thought that through."

Under questioning from Sen. Chris Larson, D-Milwaukee, Allen acknowledged someone with political connections could make it through the initial screen. But he argued that person would face additional scrutiny because of those ties and would not be more likely to get the job because of them.

Larson also pressed the agency officials on comments Gov. Scott Walker made previously about the civil service protections during the debate over Act 10.

Deputy DOA Secretary Cate Zeuske told Larson the vast majority of state employees during her nearly three decades in the Capitol are hard working and professional and are unhappy over those who are falling asleep on the job or not pulling their weight.

She also argued Walker has taken a series of steps to benefit state employees such as ending furloughs that had been used by his predecessor while adding training and a merit compensation program. The latter was re-instated last week after being suspended eight months ago due to a budget crunch.

Larson said backers continue to make the case for the changes by relying on what he said were anecdotes of bad behavior by public employees, but no solid facts other than a wave of coming retirements for state workers.

He questioned how the Walker officials could persuade him the changes were not going to just produce "streamlined patronage."

"It’s tough when the best example is WEDC," Larson said. "It’s tough to trust you here."

Chair Steve Nass, R-Whitewater, at one point chided Larson to be "quiet" as the Dem continued to talk and argued Larson's comments the proposal would "gut" civil service protections were “as far from the truth as one could get.”


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