Governor proposes adding new state jobs; too little, too late, Dems say

2013-02-21T12:00:00Z Governor proposes adding new state jobs; too little, too late, Dems saySTEVEN VERBURG | Wisconsin State Journal | sverburg@madison.com | 608-252-6118 Journal Times

Gov. Scott Walker is proposing to add 710 new state jobs two years after he all but stripped public workers of union rights, charged them more for health and pension benefits and watched the workforce shrink as record numbers retired.

But the proposal was immediately panned by fellow Republicans like Sen. Alberta Darling, R-River Hills, who co-chairs the Legislature's powerful budget committee, who said the new workers would create added health and pension obligations.

Walker is proposing to add the new state worker positions and eliminate hundreds of others as part of his 2013-15 budget. The largest increase in workers would come in the departments of Health Services and Transportation.

"Our tough, but prudent decisions two years ago put us in a position to further reduce the tax burden of our citizens, while still investing in our priorities," Walker said.

His budget also includes language designed to address excessive rehiring of pension-drawing retirees to state jobs by mandating that anyone who returns to more than about 26 hours a week to stop collecting pension payments and requiring a longer period before someone is rehired after retirement.

Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, R-Rochester, said he was skeptical of the need for more state workers but could be persuaded. Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald, R-Juneau, said he didn't have any details on the idea.

Democrats said some of Walker's recommended staffing increases are ideas they've proposed for years because they will put the state on a stronger financial footing, but that others are ill-conceived and the whole proposal is too little and too late.

"This is really a pittance compared to what he's done in terms of forcing people to flee state employment," said state Rep. Chris Taylor, D-Madison.

In 2011, Walker's first year in office, record numbers of public employees retired and the public sector work force shrank by 10 percent.

Budget documents released Wednesday peg state job vacancy rates at over 10 percent.

Taylor said she and other Democrats have been begging Republicans, who control state government, to add staff to the state tax collection agency because certain jobs more than pay for themselves and to hire state workers for jobs that contractors are doing at an inflated cost.

Walker is proposing just that. The state Department of Revenue estimated that adding 61 positions would yield $82.7 million in tax revenue and another $6 million in tax credits that would otherwise be granted improperly under the homestead and earned income programs over the two-year budget cycle that starts in July.

Walker wants to add 180 engineering and support positions to the state Department of Transportation to reduce the use of outside consultants by $5.6 million annually.

Walker also plans to add 150 workers to the King and Union Grove veterans homes, including direct care staff he previously announced and additional support staff.

The Department of Corrections would see new workers who would track increased numbers of sex offenders and others and create an office that would look for fraud and ensure that the state meets federal standards in preventing prison rapes.

And he is asking the Legislature for 280 positions at Department of Health Services for mental health services and Medicaid.

Taylor said the Medicaid jobs wouldn't have been needed if Walker had accepted an expanded plan under the new federal health care law. Walker said his health care proposal would actually insure more people.

The added jobs are the net of larger changes. Walker proposed adding 1,904 positions and eliminating 1,194. It wasn't immediately clear Wednesday where all of the proposed reductions in state jobs were proposed. A few would be at the Wisconsin Employment Relations Commission, where the absence of unions means less work for lawyers who handled contract disputes and grievances.

- The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Copyright 2016 Journal Times. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

(10) Comments

  1. I Come In Peace
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    I Come In Peace - February 21, 2013 3:13 pm
    The voucher program works well? Ha... it cuts funding to education and kids that attend voucher schools do no better there then they would in public schools. These are all facts that are easily found. Please do a little research.
  2. Liam
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    Liam - February 21, 2013 2:07 pm
    Ya u da smrt 1 fo shr.
  3. Liam
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    Liam - February 21, 2013 1:06 pm
    I left 5 for scotty as he will need it. you in all of your wisdom must know the 35 million number is bogus also. MRM you be da smart one.
  4. Mr Righteous Man
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    Mr Righteous Man - February 21, 2013 11:40 am
    hmmm.....35 million divided by 5 million does not equate to 6 million, found the fuzzy math.

    I'm not a mathematician or anything but:
    If 5 x 6 = 30 then 35,000,000 / 5,000,000 = 7

    In order to net any number of Million dollars per Wisconsin residences, the surplus would need to be in the Trillions.
  5. Liam
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    Liam - February 21, 2013 10:58 am
    ordman: poor little fool, your physic ability will keep you in the poor house.
  6. ordmm
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    ordmm - February 21, 2013 10:41 am
    Liam.....Here's a real news flash for you....You would HAVE HAD TO PAY TAXES to see a reduction. Sitting all day playing on your obama phone is not working, which means no pay check, which means no taxes paid. Oops sorry, forgot that might hurt your feelings and lower your self esteem.
  7. Liam
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    Liam - February 21, 2013 8:47 am
    Blindman: Are you a citizen of the United States of America? Only someone from another Country would be this Ignorant.
  8. Liam
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    Liam - February 21, 2013 7:59 am
    Lots of fuzzy math going on here. I did not here him talk but I was told he has created a 35 MILLION dollar surplus and wants to reduce my tax this year by $200.00 dollars. So lets see now $35 million in surplus is real money and about 5 million Wisconsinites. Lets go out on a limb and divide $35 million by 5 million and come up with $6 million per person. I say do not reduce my tax burden and give me and all of Wisconsin Residents there share of the surplus. Or is it just Gov. scott walker/ GOP FUZZY MATH? No scott was a eagle boy scout/ministers son and can not tell an untruth.
  9. McGuilicutty
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    McGuilicutty - February 20, 2013 9:18 pm
    Watching the Dems sit, stone-faced, during the telecast was a good example of the typical "sour grapes" look we all have come to love. It does my heart good to see them squirm when good policy is presented that they did not think of. The voucher program works so well that it gives the Dems heartburn everytime another success story comes to light. I hope this is the end of WEAC as we know it.
  10. Blindman
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    Blindman - February 20, 2013 9:15 pm
    It sounds like Walker is finding out where money needs to go,and where money is being waisted...It's good to have a Governor that does the job he's supposed to do...All we need now is a President that can even come close to doing the job that he's supposed to do...Like "defend and uphold the Constitution of the United States of America".
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