“Please do what you can to stop the dismantling of the civil service system,” Mary from Trempealeau County asked me.
Mary is a retired social worker. Her call is one of a number of contacts I received lately from residents unhappy with a bill that would change state employment. Residents expressed concern that government jobs will be filled with political friends and relatives of those in power and will fail to serve its citizens.
A newly introduced bill would do away with examinations for state jobs. Under the bill, every resume for filling 30,000 state positions would go to the behemoth state Department of Administration (DOA) and into the hands of political appointees. The bill would keep employees on probation for two years and use new vague language to fire state employees.
“Fix the broken programs, get rid of the ones that don’t work and fund those that are working.” There’s not a state candidate around that would disagree with this statement.
Yet there are some in the Legislature that would eliminate the very source of information on which programs are a waste of taxpayer dollars and where the broken programs need fixing.
For fifty years, auditors at the nonpartisan Legislative Audit Bureau (LAB) have assisted legislators and the people of Wisconsin in answering questions about dollars spent. Questions like, “Did we get our money’s worth out of that program?”
“I got a call saying the IRS was taking me to court, but I filed everything on time. What do I do?” Linda asked. We both agreed the phone call sounded fishy, so I reached out to the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP) to learn more.
The Consumer Protection experts explained there has been an explosion in the number of IRS imposters contacting people and demanding their financial information. Tax identity theft can lead to fraudulent tax filings or use of the victim’s Social Security number.
IRS Commissioner John Koskinen stated the first contact with the IRS would be official correspondence sent through the mail. Consumer Protection officials advise never to respond to an email or phone call requesting your Social Security number or other financial information.
“Are you going to follow the recommendations in the audit?” I asked the Board Chair of the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC). He crossed his arms, sat back and smiled at me.
A smile that, to me, said I was annoying him.
The clearest path to better outcomes at Governor Walker’s flagship jobs creation agency is to follow the recommendations of the nonpartisan Legislative Audit Bureau (LAB).