Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Our Spoiled State Firing and Hiring System

Posted By on Wed, Oct 19, 2016 at 12:15 PM

Fasten your irony belts, ladies and gentleman, we're going to take a drive down the at-will firing and patronage-hiring highway.

Under Republican Governor Ducey, the number of state workers who have been let go has increased. More important is the increasing number of employees who were ousted without being given a reason. The credit and blame for the growing number of state workers fired without cause goes previous Republican Governor Jan Brewer, who signed a law in 2012 making it all possible.

Why was it harder to fire Arizona state employees without cause before our two most recent Republican governors? Because in 1969, good-government Republicans put a merit protection system for state employees into place. The Arizona legislature was generally under Democratic control before the mid 60s, and Republicans felt the sting of the patronage system, also known as the spoils system, when Democrats would hire and fire state workers at will. Arizona was actually late to the employee merit protection party. The federal government passed the Civil Service Act in the 1880s which said that federal government jobs should be rewarded on the basis of merit, not political affiliation.

Brewer reversed the good work done by her Republican predecessors by signing a law increasing the number of "at will" state workers who can be fired at any time without a stated reason.

Arizona Republicans have been in power for nearly 50 years. I guess they got tired of having to give reasons to get rid of employees, so they made sure that's no longer a problem. You can fire someone because he or she is too progressive, or complains about problems which should be complained about, or just because you want to cut back on the size annoying state agencies — like, say, cutting the tax auditor staff from 30 to four which, it's been estimated, will cut $100 million in state tax revenue while it saves a few million dollars in salaries. Another benefit: you can fire older workers and save twice, once by hiring younger, less expensive employees, and again by not having to pay the past-40 workers retirement benefits in a few years.

And let's not forget, if you can get rid of current workers, it's easier to find a place in state government for your neice or your nephew, or the sons and daughters of your friends and supporters.

Teddy Roosevelt, that old Republican and "Bull Moose" Progressive, said, “Government jobs belong to the American people, not politicians, and shall be filled only with regard to public service.” He and the Arizona Republicans of 1969 had it right. Our current state Republican leadership have it wrong.

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