Advertisement

Opinion

Opinion

Editorial: Jobs, politics

March 17, 2013

Advertisement

Like many aspects of state government, the classified employment system evolved in response to a need.

In this case it was a need to protect state employees from capricious political decisions and paybacks and to help provide the state a stable, professional workforce that wouldn’t experience major turnover every time a new governor took office.

It’s a system that has worked in the state for many years, but it now is under attack. Informally, the shift away from classified state jobs already has begun. In a number of cases, jobs or departments have been abolished to eliminate classified positions and replace them with unclassified jobs. The Kansas Department of Administration reported that one-fourth of state employees hired since July 2012 were unclassified and not part of the civil service system.

Legislation that was discussed last week in the House Appropriations Committee would formalize the state’s move away from a classified employment system. The bill would make all state attorneys, supervisors and information technology workers unclassified. After July 1, all new hires and all current state employees who move into different jobs would be unclassified. The legislation would lead to a complete phase-out of the system that currently protects classified state employees from being hired, fired, promoted or demoted based on “nonmerit” factors, including political affiliation.

Representatives of state workers told the committee that such a move would result in hiring and retention of workers being based more on politics than on merit. They also said it could make it harder to keep experienced employees in key positions, which could hurt continuity in state agencies. Interestingly, no one appeared before the committee to support the legislation. However, the committee’s chairman, Marc Rhoades, R-Newton, said he had proposed the bill, which is patterned after one adopted in Arizona, because the state needed to start phasing out its classified system. His justification is that making all jobs unclassified would make it easier to reward high-performing employees. That’s probably true, but it also makes it easier to punish employees for political stands or other personal factors not related to their job performance or to get rid of experienced employees to make room for political cronies.

Some committee members also pointed out that Kansas University got rid of its classified employee system in 2005, but that situation was very different. First, the chancellor at KU isn’t elected in a partisan election every four years, as is the Kansas governor, and has no political debts to repay. KU also eliminated its civil service system based on a favorable vote of classified employees and established a civil-service type board to handle appeals of job dismissals or disciplinary actions.

There probably are weaknesses to the state’s civil service system, but abolishing it would clear the way for politically motivated hirings and probably lead to a less knowledgeable, less experienced state workforce. That’s not a step in the right direction.

Comments

Richard Heckler 1 year, 9 months ago

Think ALEC Guidelines because private industry WANTS our large pool if tax dollars in their bank accounts. Notice also private industry smells a guaranteed steam of profit no matter the quality of performance. Hmmmmmmmmm.

Privatization funnels YOUR TAX DOLLARS and MINE into the corporate bank accounts. THIS IS A CORPORATE ENTITLEMENT. Billions and trillions of tax dollars caught the eye of corporate America = easy and guaranteed profits guided by fascist politicians.

Now the once private corporation becomes dependent on government in addition to skimming tax dollars off the top which get laundered into:

-- CEO pay packages

-- Golden Parachutes

-- Shareholders

-- GOP special interest campaign cookie jars

Yes our tax dollars are now getting spent recklessly instead of efficiently. Now we have never ending reckless use of tax dollars.

weeslicket 1 year, 9 months ago

Marc Rhoades, R-Newton, said he had proposed the bill, .... (in order to make) it easier to reward high-performing employees.

when has this ever happened, mr. rhoades? when have you or your compartriots ever rewarded an employee with a better salary or wages?

i happen to think that the exact opposite will be the case. employees will see their wages (i don't think unclassified employees receive salaries) will decrease. watch and learn people.

chootspa 1 year, 9 months ago

Since another article says they're also debating further gutting the KPERS system and imposing salary caps, this "rewarding" thing does not seem to mean what they think it means.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 1 year, 9 months ago

Once the classified system is eliminated, if you want a job with the state, you'll have to apply through the Koch Bros.'s AFP or the Kansas Chamber of Commerce.

Orwell 1 year, 9 months ago

This would lead to the excesses of patronage that have been the foundation for corruption elsewhere. Does the term "Chicago-style politics" ring a bell?

sciencegeek 1 year, 9 months ago

This is another bad idea, another power grab by this administration. The big question is, how can it be stopped? How can any of their power grabs be stopped? Does anyone know?

chootspa 1 year, 9 months ago

They may only be stopped by pitchfork at this point.

weeslicket 1 year, 9 months ago

dave trabertsy?? oh dave trabertsy??

google the map for us on this one, again. please.

Commenting has been disabled for this item.