Melanie Conklin

State Jobs Will Go Unfilled

Republican Finance Committee co-chairs refuse Evers request for 60 new hires in state government.

By , Wisconsin Examiner - Nov 1st, 2019 03:08 pm
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John Nygren and Alberta Darling.

John Nygren and Alberta Darling.

Joint Finance Committee co-chairs Sen. Alberta Darling (R-River Hills) and Rep. John Nygren (R-Marinette) sent the Department of Administration Secretary Joel Brennan an aggressive letter on Oct. 31, instituting a new requirement on executive branch agency positions and simultaneously rejecting a request from Gov. Tony Evers’ administration to create 60 new state jobs.

The co-chairs state that they will no longer fill jobs unless an equivalent vacant position is abolished.

“This letter is to inform you that going forward, position requests from agencies that are recommended for approval and forwarded to the Committee should identify equivalent vacancies as an offset to the newly requested positions,” wrote Darling and Nygren. “We also ask that you resubmit the requests dated September 24 and October 22 to meet this condition.”

The letter cited an attached Legislative Fiscal Bureau (LFB) memo Nygren requested laying out vacant positions and how long they have been vacant and the funding source used for those positions.

The agenda items on these positions were pulled just before JFC began its meeting, meaning that any agency staff, secretaries or members of the public who thought they would be on the agenda may have shown up, in a snowstorm, to listen or answer questions at the JFC meeting.

“This is lazy and petty politics. Republicans in the legislature clearly don’t want to do their jobs, but Gov. Evers was elected to put the people of Wisconsin first and that is what he is doing by moving forward on important priorities,” responded Melissa Baldauff, spokeswoman for Gov. Tony Evers. “The administration has made these requests in accordance with state statute and we will not be re-submitting them. If Republican leadership chooses to deny the administration’s requests, and instead prefers to stand in the way of critical investments in broadband expansion, mental health resources, public safety, agriculture and economic development, they will have to own those decisions to the people of Wisconsin.”

The letter cites 4,000 vacancies, but Rachel Janke writes in the LFB memo, “Given that position information from the payroll system represents a particular point in time, it can be misleading to review total vacancy data as of a specific date. While a position may be identified in the payroll system as being vacant, this could occur because an individual recently vacated the position and the relevant state agency has not had time to recruit new candidates to fill the position.”

The memo states that 1,468.37 positions had been vacant for more than six months or longer and 600 had been vacant for over a year.

However the LFB memo adds a few cautions about assuming that vacant positions are not needed.

“While positions may be identified as vacant as of September 26, 2019, it is likely that, for many positions, the relevant state agency is currently in the process of recruiting individuals to fill the positions, or has completed the recruitment process,” states Janke’s LFB memo. She adds that some may already be filled.

Other reasons a position might be vacant, she notes, are that some agencies cannot fill positions due to budgetary constraints, the inability to recruit qualified individuals, or because grant funding is depleted. “The vacancy status of a position may not be indicative of the merit of the existence of the position. Further the salary and fringe benefit funding associated with the vacant position my still be utilized by the agency to address other agency needs, such as overtime, limited-term employee costs, and supplies and services costs necessary to perform the duties of a vacant position.”

Darling and Nygren did not rule out the possibility of creating any new positions, but they did tell Brennan, “Only in extraordinary situations will new positions without offsets be created.”

Before signing off, Darling and Nygren injected a few sharp barbs for Gov. Evers:

“This Committee stopped over a billion dollars in tax increases, enormous spending increases and a huge expansion of the welfare state that were all proposed by Governor Tony Evers in his budget. His budget, as proposed, would have left the state with a $2 billion structural deficit and created over 700 new state positions. State taxpayers expect us to be good stewards of their tax dollars.

“This Committee will be the check on wasteful spending that the Governor has shown himself to be incapable of.”

Added Evers’ spokeswoman Baldauff: “It is sad that Republican leadership has such little regard for public service and the important work of governing that they try to make everything a fight.”

The co-chairs letter was signed, “Respectfully, Alberta Darling and John Nygren.”

Reprinted with permission of Wisconsin Examiner

6 thoughts on “State Jobs Will Go Unfilled”

  1. Mingus says:

    We need to start calling these Republican moves to undermine our State Constitution for what they are: corrupt! Republican legislatures in some States are doing some of the same things. If it wasn’t for gerrymandering and voter suppression, they would win few elections.

  2. Thomas Williams says:

    It’s hard to believe that these folks are “leaders” ! There’s a word for them but both my dearly departed mother and the editors of this news feed would be offended by it! So I will simply say there’s areal difference between protecting the public purse and recognizing the need for and support of government! Arrogance and ideology are wonderful foils to hide behind. They don’t justify this sort of game!!

  3. Thomas Martinsen says:

    Darling and Nygren are playing small ball: bunting and punting in lieu of letting Evers hit for a long ball because they fear that he could succeed. D & N have been small for many years, yet they continue to shrink. Our best hope is that Dorothy from Oz will toss some water on them to make them disappear before their shrinking words and deeds suffocate what is left of our democracy.

  4. Paul Nannis says:

    I worked on many issues with Alberta over the years when she was reasonable, understood the importance of issues like teen pregnancy prevention and mental health….
    It’s sad to see her, at the likely end of her career, slide into a partisan hack irrespective of importance or relevance for the health of Wisconsin’s citizens.

  5. Thomas Martinsen says:

    I feel your pain, Paul. Alberta had promise when she was younger, but she apparently drank too much partisan tea and became a partisan shill. The most sad part of this story is that being a partisan shill in these times makes a person party to fascist partisans in power who show no regard for democracy or for the people who desire democracy.

  6. Thomas Martinsen says:

    Dear Alberta,

    Do yourself and others two favors: retire and shut up.

    Thank you in advance,

    Tom

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