Guv: State hiring rules need changing

Ballot measure on personnel issues would save state money, Hickenlooper says

Gov. John Hickenlooper makes a point about Referendum S at a presentation at The Daily Sentinel.



It isn’t the sexiest ballot measure of all time, but it is one of the most important, Gov. John Hickenlooper says.

It will save the state money and time, and help it hire top-notch job prospects, the governor said while in Grand Junction on Monday.

It’s little-known Referendum S, which will be on this fall’s ballot, and it’s designed to get rid of some antiquated state personnel rules that make no sense, he said.

“It’s just good government,” Hickenlooper said. “Boring as that is, it’s just good government.”

On Wednesday, Hickenlooper and former Govs. Bill Owens and Bill Ritter will launch a bipartisan campaign in Denver to get the referendum passed.

Hickenlooper and other organizers with the Yes on S Campaign said they fear the measure will suffer the same fate as two similar ballot questions: one pushed by former Gov. Roy Romer in 1986, which was narrowly rejected by voters, and another by Owens in 2004, which failed by more than 60 percent of the vote.

Both measures were designed to loosen some of the prescriptive personnel rules governing how the state can hire, what tests it needs to give, and how many people can be interviewed in the final hiring round.

To date, there is no organized effort opposing the measure.

Under the current system, which was put in the Colorado Constitution as a kind of union contract for state workers, only the top three candidates for any job can be considered.

But it may takes weeks to get to that point, and many of the best candidates end up getting jobs elsewhere long before then, said Hickenlooper, who was at Two Rivers Convention Center to deliver remarks to local members of the American Association of Petroleum Geologists.

Consequently, it’s not uncommon for the final candidate to be someone way down the recommendation list, he said.

“You can start again, but you have to wait six months,” Hickenlooper said of the rules. “If you’ve got someone you know is good, you should be able to hire them.”

The measure would expand that to six top candidates. It also would eliminate the competitive tests currently given, replacing them with more objective scrutiny of individual candidates based on their past experience.

“This will give us the ability to look at their résumés, and give them the ability to demonstrate the skill sets that they need to excel in the job, rather than a one-size-fits-all test,” said Mike King, executive director of the Colorado Department of Natural Resources, who was traveling with the governor.


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