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Wisconsin skirts law so it can give raises to a few

Turns out Scott Walker administration doesn’t think (certain) public employees are overpaid.

Scott Walker won the governorship in next-door Wisconsin promising to hold down state spending. Wisconsin has a long-standing law that is designed to limit pay increases to state employees. That should help Walker hold down spending.

Wisconsin also has a long-standing tradition of skirting the law through a weird maneuver in which an employee is switched to a different state job for one day, then switched back to their original job, which magically makes the limit go away.

The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel reports that even under Walker, certain public employees are so valuable — including at least one whose work was deemed politically valuable when Walker was facing recall last year — that it’s worth continuing the old switcheroo-for-a-day practice to reward them to avoid losing them to that nasty private sector. As in:

Gov. Scott Walker’s administration used phantom job transfers this year to give double-digit pay raises to two employees and a smaller raise to a third, quickly switching them from one post to as many as three others and then back to their original jobs.

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The biggest pay increase — $14,416 a year — went to a longtime state economist who helped expose flaws in jobs statistics that were hurting the governor’s recall election chances, a Journal Sentinel review has found.