The state workforce could see a number of changes going forward, following the signing of a bill that overhauls Wisconsin’s civil service system.
Governor Scott Walker put his signature on the controversial legislation Friday afternoon, during a ceremony in Grand Chute. In a statement, Walker said the bill “implements common-sense reforms to our recruitment and retention processes to get the best and brightest in the door and keep them there.”
The bill eliminates the use of the civil service exam to screen potential employees, shifting Wisconsin instead to a resume-based hiring process. Advocates of the change say that will make it easier to identify possible hires, while also speeding up the hiring process…which critics have said can take several months under the use of the exam system.
It also creates discipline standards across state agencies, which backers have said are needed to provide more clarity in situations where problem employees have avoided being terminated because of unclear rules. Walker said the bill “provides state agencies with clear direction to create uniform disciplinary practices to address the few bad actors who abuse the system.”
The legislation has faced heavy criticism from Democrats and union groups, who argue it make a number of unnecessary changes in order to make it easier to fill vacant state jobs with political appointees.
Assembly Democratic Leader Peter Barca (D-Kenosha) said the move eliminates a system that has protected the people of Wisconsin for over a century, just so the party in power can fill jobs with people there to serve the political class. “We had a system where we tried to get the best qualified, the best and the brightest into public service…now we’re going to get the best friends of the administration.”
AFSCME Council 32 executive director Rick Badger also raised doubts about whether the changes will help to improve the quality of applicants the state attracts, noting the reason many people have retired or avoided public sector jobs is because of the constant attacks and criticism that workforce faces. “The law signed does noting to make civil service employment more attractive,” he said.