Unnoticed Legislation Converted 32 Merit-System Employees Into Political Appointees – Hartford Courant

By Jon Lender

Tucked quietly into the massive state budget-implementation bill approved in a June 29 special legislative was an intriguing provision that removed 32 highly paid jobs at state executive-branch agencies – including communications directors and legislative liaisons – from the state’s merit system.

The provision, proposed by the office of Gov. Dannel P. Malloy and agreed to in negotiations with leaders of the Democratic legislative majority, takes the 32 positions out of the state’s “classified” civil service system and makes them into “unclassified” political appointees – like deputy commissioners or executive assistants.

The change – which became effective July 1, a day after Malloy signed the 686-page bill – eliminates testing procedures that were previously required for hiring. “Unclassified” employees don’t enjoy the same job protections as those in the “classified” merit system, so it is easier for political officials to remove people currently in the jobs.

Malloy and his people have been eyeing the change since at least 2012, when they proposed similar legislation that failed. But a top Malloy budget lieutenant said in recent days, when asked by Government Watch about the new provision, that there are no immediate plans to flex the administration’s newfound legal muscle and replace any of the 32 with appointees of their own.

“The provision was agreed to as part of negotiations and an agreement with the General Assembly on the budget implementation bill. The provision is no reflection on the hard work and dedication of those presently in the positions, nor is there any specific action immediately envisioned. It is a matter of philosophy [Read More]