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Stender: Christie Admin’s Proposed Changes to Civil Service Will Breed Corruption & Nepotism

Real Reforms Should be Discussed in the Light of Day, Not in a Vacuum

Assembly State Government Committee Chair Linda Stender (D-Middlesex/Somerset/Union) held a hearing before her committee on Monday to take testimony on the roughly 100 pages of proposed changes to the current civil service system, which have been put forth by the Christie administration with relatively little public input.

“The proposed changes by the Christie administration would radically alter the existing civil service system and open the door for nepotism and cronyism to corrupt the hiring and promotion process to the disadvantage of hardworking public employees.

“Civil service was created to provide skill-based fair public access to publicly-funded employment. Public employment funded with public tax dollars should not be run like a privately-funded business where the boss decides to hire based on their personal relationships or preferences for race, religion or creed.

“The existing civil service system has helped protect jobs for those who have traditionally been discriminated against like women, veterans and minorities. Under the proposed changes, hiring preferences for veterans would be eliminated along with the existing protections for other qualified minorities. Ultimately, this proposal will allow politics to trump proficiency in the hiring process.

“By doing away with civil service exams in favor of ‘job banding,’ an employee’s proficiency and skill levels are ignored in favor of a manager’s personal preferences. Where is the fairness and aptitude in that?

“The only ones who will benefit from these changes are the politically-connected and ultimately that does a disservice to hardworking employees and the public they serve.

“The Governor vetoed the common sense reforms I sponsored last year, in favor of unilaterally dismantling our system. That is not the way to accomplish real reform. Every vested party should be brought to the table to discuss proposed changes in the light of day, not in a vacuum with little to no public input,” said Stender.

Stender noted that all of today’s testimony will be forwarded to the Civil Service Commission for the record in light of the lack of public hearings held by the commission. Stender also intends to introduce a resolution opposing the changes.