Change outdated rules, vote ‘Yes’ on Ref. S

Today Gov. John Hickenlooper and former Govs. Bill Owens and Bill Ritter kick off a bipartisan effort to get voters to support Referendum S and thereby reform state personnel rules.

We hope they are successful. The ballot measure would change some antiquated hiring rules that have no business being in the state Constitution in the first place, but because they are, they make it more difficult and costly to hire top-rate professionals for state jobs.

The current rules were added to the Colorado Constitution decades ago as part of an effort to ensure state hiring was fair and objective, not subject to political cronyism. But many of those rules work poorly in the 21st century.

For instance, as Gov. Hickenlooper noted during a stop in Grand Junction Monday, they can make it difficult for the state to hire the most qualified person for a particular position.

The current rules require candidates to take competitive tests that may have little application to the job that is vacant. Then, only the top three candidates can be considered and interviewed.

But that process can take many weeks, during which time the best candidates may find employment elsewhere. Additionally, if state officials determine none of the top candidates meets their needs, they can start the process over, but they must wait six months to do so.

“If you’ve got someone you know is good, you should be able to hire them,” Hickenlooper told The Daily Sentinel.

Referendum S would enlarge the pool of finalist job candidates from three to six. It would replace the competitive test with a comparative analysis of candidates’ resumés and job experience, and it would allow more flexibility in selecting the top candidate.

It’s a common-sense measure that will improve state government. That’s why a bipartisan majority of the state Legislature approved placing it on the Nov. 6 election ballot. It deserves the support of every Colorado voter who seeks more efficient state government.


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