We wanted to address some facts in advance of any legislation targeting Arizona workers in state government and Gov. Jan Brewer's proposal to remove covered status of state employees.

State employees were covered for a reason, to prevent undue political influence and corruption in state government. State employees are precluded from becoming elected precinct committee persons, holding office within the political party of their choice, or running for most political offices while a covered state employee. This was done to remove politics from employees tasked with serving the public. Covered status positions require background checks, interviews and competitive screening before hire.

Brewer's proposal would kick the door wide open for Fiesta Bowl-type corruption and cronyism in state government. Open interviews and competitive screenings to determine the best candidate for the job would be eliminated.

The proposal would make ripe political payback and cronyism by placing unqualified employees into these positions. Under Brewer's plan, donors or family members could be hired with no regard to the best interest of the public. Employees could be subjected to political pressure to do certain things or face immediate termination.

Unlike private business, having covered employees who are shielded from undue political pressure, go through a competitive hiring process with background checks better serves the public than the governor's proposal. Covered employees must perform to a certain standard, or face discipline up to and including termination. For early supporters of the governor's plan to say otherwise is disingenuous and not factual. The merit system provides a series of checks and balances to ensure due process and minimize abusive or discriminatory practices.

The governor's proposal to remove these checks and balances, eliminate open competitive hiring processes and standards of conduct for covered employees would only open the door for undue political pressure, corruption and Fiesta Bowl-type political cronyism in state government. The governor's No. 1 priority to the state of Arizona should be creating jobs, supporting education and the economy.

Sheri Van Horsen

President, AFSCME Local 3111, Phoenix

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