Wisconsin Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen says there are several good reasons the Department of Justice has awarded nearly $300,000 in merit raises and bonuses this year to 94 of its employees.
Van Hollen says he strongly believes the practice is one of the most effective tools for rewarding his best employees. He says he’s “a firm believer that not everybody deserves the same pay” and rewarding those who go “above and beyond” could encourage other staff to work harder.
Van Hollen says the bonuses are also one of the best tools available for retaining valuable employees. For example, he says those working in state crime labs as DNA analysts can often make more money in the private sector. Those workers spend a year being trained by the state and, if they leave to work for someone else who pays more, Van Hollen says the state ends up wasting time and resources to replace them.
Van Hollen says the bonuses have been funded by cutting staffing budgets and maintaining vacancies within the department.
Merit pay was reinstated last year by Governor Walker. The practice is drawing criticism because of its use at a time when funding has been cut to state programs and public education, as well as requiring increased pension and benefit contributions from state workers. Several other state agencies have also utilized the system this year to reward employees.
AUDIO: Andrew Beckett reports (1:11)