An Arizona State personnel reform measure has been discussed over the last few months by politicians and our Governor, however, no action has been taken and little information has been available to the public. You will probably remember the language used when Governor Brewer introduced her “Four Cornerstones of Reform” policy agenda that addressed this issue and stated:
Personnel System: Arizona is saddled with an overly bureaucratic State personnel system from a bygone era. Our personnel system should help State Government attract and retain the best employees, and it should in-crease employee accountability and agency efficiency.
Under our proposed new system, the vast majority of State employees – those who do their jobs well and are committed to effectively serving the public – will have nothing to fear.
As of a specific date, the new plan will apply to all State employees in supervisory positions, to newly hired employees, and to covered employees being promoted or otherwise voluntarily changing jobs. The plan will also allow for existing covered employees – not yet subject to the required changes – to opt into the new system. This modern personnel system will be a strong selling point for business attraction, retention and expansion that require a nimble and responsive state government.
Right-to-Work Protections: Arizona needs to strengthen the right of every employee to have an individual relationship with his or her employer, and Arizona must remain a strong right-to-work state. The imposition of any meet-and-confer process should be enacted in statute and not simply by a Governor’s command and I recommend that the Legislature prohibit in statute any such future action by a Governor.
It is a belief and misconception that bad state employees are able to keep their jobs longer than someone who works in the private sector and the personnel board is a privilege. The Goldwater Institute, a conservative
think tank in Phoenix, did a study last year of how much money the state lost due to investigations against employees (http://www.goldwaterinstitute.org/article/5478). These arguments appeal to the public, as they see tax dollars are being wasted for lengthy investigations and the private sector commonly does not have a personnel board to review discipline or terminations. The private sector employee in Arizona knows that at any time they could lose their job and not be given a reason, and feel it is only fair for other state workers to be treated the same. However, the Goldwater Report and the general public do not conceptually understand the law enforcement profession and our distinct differences from the private sector. It is very easy to put DPS employees into the general rhetoric of a personnel reform.
AHPA lobbyist Kelsey Lundy and I have met with Governor Brewer’s staff since January and expressed our concerns about any personnel reform as it pertains to all DPS employees. After our last meeting on March 15, which included ADOA Director Scott Smith, it was learned the reform plan would exclude police officers from an “at will” status and remain under a reformed Law Enforcement Merit System Council. One change AHPA and the Governor’s office agreed on would allow additional voting members to the board, increasing the LEMSC to 5 members.
Governor Brewer’s office also indicated all DPS civilians would be moved to a revamped state personnel system under DOA with other state employees and considered “at will” or uncovered. It is the position of AHPA that DPS civilians can be subject to the same information, expectations and duties as sworn officers, and should not be treated differently. All DPS employees should remain under the rules of the Law Enforcement Merit System Council.
To date, no language for a personnel reform has been made public. There have been discussions about a special session; however, Governor Brewer stated to a media outlet last week that she does not plan on reconvening. If that is the case, it might not be until January of 2012 before a personnel reform measure is introduced. In the meantime, I urge you to talk with your family, friends, neighbors and elected officials and remind them of the vast differences between the law enforcement profession and the private sector. It will take education to help the public understand that DPS employees are not just any state worker. I stay dedicated to this issue, and will continue to update you as more information becomes available.
Jimmy Chavez – President of AHPA
Watch Governor Brewer’s last interview where she reference’s personnel reform by CLICKING HERE.