/Election puts some state employee jobs in jeopardy as officials look to bring in their own people

Election puts some state employee jobs in jeopardy as officials look to bring in their own people

These state employees work at the direction of the elected official overseeing their agency. State employees may lose their jobs due to the changes in officeholders that 2019’s statewide elections brought about. The new officeholders may bring their own staff. Although there are many at-will employees, the majority work for the governor. Tate Reeves, the governor-elect, has been involved in building his team since his victory over Jim Hood on Nov. 5. Reeves made it clear that the majority of people who worked in the government of the outgoing governor were not eligible for a job. Phil Bryant, who was unable to run for re-election due to term limits, will still have a job. Reeves stated that he was speaking about “hundreds, hundreds, and even hundreds” of people shortly after his election. “But we won’t see the kind of turnout that you would expect to fill 1,000 of these positions,” Reeves stated shortly after his election. Reeves has already announced that Maj. General Janson Boyles, who was previously serving as the adjutantgeneral under Bryant, will continue in his post as well as Greg Michel as executivedirector of the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency. This means that the 850 state-employed at-will personnel serving in the military and 37 MEMA workers will have jobs, as they are already working for Boyles or Michel. Reeves suggested that Bryant appointees may also stay. “Gov. Reeves stated that Bryant has many competent people who perform in many positions. “We are going through the process to decide who wants to stay.” However, not all at-will employees work at the governor’s pleasure. Other elected officials in the state also have at-will employees. According to the state Personnel Board, there are 275 state employees at-will in the office of Attorney General. Hood was the attorney general for four terms before deciding to run as governor. Lynn Fitch, Treasurer, ran for and won an open seat as attorney general. She is currently deciding which employees she wants to keep from Hood. About 135 of the at-will employees are attorneys, most of whom work for various state agencies. “Attorney general-elect Fitch is working hard to build the best team of talented and qualified individuals. Morgan Baldwin, a Fitch consultant, said that this will include current Attorney General’s Office employees as well as those with fresh perspectives. It is safe to say that attorneys and other staff members of the AG’s office approach the holiday season with some trepidation. Same goes for the 22 at-will employees at the treasurer’s offices where Jackson businessman/attorney David McRae succeeds Fitch, or the 68 attorney’s employees at the secretary of state’s office where state senator Michael Watson of Pascagoula replaces Delbert Hosemann who ran and was elected lieutenant governor. To be honest, this is part of the business’s nature. It is not fair nor sensible for newly elected officials not to be able bring in at least some their own people to certain key positions. The question is, however, how many people are enough? Mississippi is home to approximately 26,500 state employees. About 16,000 to 17,000 state employees are covered by the state Personnel Board. This means that they are civil service protected and cannot be terminated due to changes in leadership caused by elections. According to the Personnel Board, approximately 6,500 employees can be terminated at any time and work at their own discretion. This includes those who work for politicians as well as at-will employees in agencies that are overseen by non-elected boards such the state Board of Education. To earn civil service protection, employees must work for one year. The Republican leadership attempts to end civil service protection in any or all agencies for a brief time (normally 2 years), almost every legislative session. Sometimes they succeed. Sometimes they fail. Legislators argue that the elimination of civil service protection makes reforms easier and makes it easier for agency heads to “right size” agencies. It is possible to debate whether this is true. It is possible to disagree on whether that is true. But, it is clear that those who have civil service protection will likely feel less anxious this holiday season._x000D