The administration of Gov. Phil Bryant and the Republican-controlled Mississippi Legislature are busy trying to politicize state agencies right down to the receptionist at the front door.
The governor and the legislative leadership want to eliminate state civil service protection that protects rank-and-file state workers from the political whims of each incoming administration.
They want to take state workers out from under the authority of the state Personnel Board, which provides civil service protection for workers. They argue that tight budget times require more flexibility for agencies to manage their payrolls.
The state Senate already has passed legislation that would take workers out from under the board for two years, and the House is expected to consider the bill in the coming weeks.
Currently, about 29,000 of the state’s 35,000 employees come under the civil service law. They are the rank-and-file career employees who serve our state, regardless of which party or politician is holding down the executive or legislative offices.
There is a clear reason for civil service protection, and all but a handful of states provide it. Otherwise, employees can be hired and fired depending on their politics or the lack of it.
Civil service protection helps prevent agencies from being stuffed full of political supporters and hangers-on, and is a key to reducing political scandals and providing continuity of service.
Mississippians should see this for what it is: a bold power grab that would move Mississippi backward to the political shenanigans of yesteryear.