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State should fix pay issue, cut out 'ghost jobs'

6:23 PM, Aug. 22, 2013  |  Comments
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Everything about a recent government maneuver called a "ghost job" or "phantom job" should make your blood boil.

Capitol Police Chief Dave Erwin and Deputy Police Chief Dan Blackdeer - better known as the guys bringing the hammer down on the peaceful Capitol Singers - were shuffled to new jobs on paper only so they could be given 11.7 percent and 14.6 percent pay raises.

The only reason for the move - perfectly legal, by the way - was to get around salary limits for the positions, and Gov. Scott Walker's administration isn't even trying to deny it.

VIDEO: CAPITOL POLICE CRACK DOWN ON DEMONSTRATORS

The men were briefly transferred to jobs in the state Department of Administration, then sent back to their real jobs with thousands more dollars tacked on their paychecks.

This isn't the first administration to use ghost jobs to get around pay issues, and it's astonishing that the move is still legal because it's so shady. It was wrong under other governors, and it's wrong now.

Most state workers got a 1 percent pay raise in July and are scheduled to get another 1 percent bump next year.

Peter Fox, who served as employment relations secretary under former Gov. Tommy Thompson, told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that the moves were "technically permissible, but in my personal opinion, it violated the spirit of fairness and equality in the civil service system."

We agree.

Lawmakers and the governor should fix this flaw and develop a merit pay system that allows for pay increases in rare situations like these. Obviously, since ghost jobs have been used in past administrations, there's a need to do this on the up-and-up instead of the way it's being done now.

Even if the administration owns up to the reasoning behind the paper shuffling, that doesn't make it OK.

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