Gov. Walker defends overhauling civil service law, says it doesn't go back on his words in 2011

MADISON -- Union leaders say Governor Scott Walker is taking out frustration over his failed presidential campaign on them. There's a plan to overhaul Wisconsin's century-old civil service system, and it will impact 30,000 state workers, including hundreds in Milwaukee.

Governor Walker defends his support of the overhaul, saying it doesn't go back on his word during the battle over Act 10.

Details of the plan aren't public, and Democrats are seizing on the uncertainty.

"I knew it was going to happen," Mike Lowrey, AFSCME Local 91 president said.

Lowrey says he wasn't laughing when Governor Walker quit the presidential race after 10 weeks on the campaign trail.

"It`s not a good thing for Wisconsin that Walker`s coming back because it`s going to be like an abusive spouse who`s had a bad business trip," Lowrey said.

Walker's first plan is an overhaul of Wisconsin's civil service system -- making it easier to hire employees and fire bad ones.

The system includes protections against politically motivated firings.

Governor Walker said the protections were important, even while he weakened unions with Act 10.

"They think the protections they have as workers are brought to them by collective bargaining. That`s not true. Just after the turn of the last century, 1905, Wisconsin passed the strongest civil service protections in the country. The strongest!" Walker said on February 21st, 2011.

Lowrey's not surprised the civil service system is now a target.

"Even more so when he said it wasn`t going to happen, I knew for sure -- yep, it`s going to happen. And he will try pitch it as a good thing. And that`s exactly what he`s done," Lowrey said.

Republicans shared a handful of stories about bad state employees -- including one from 2005, who watched porn at work and couldn't be fired.

"I notice he has to reach back 10 years to find a really juicy example," Lowrey said.

GOP lawmakers would ax civil service exams meant to create a blind hiring process, but considered outdated by Republicans.

Democrats say that would lead to cronyism.

But Walker pledges he's not going back on his 2011 words.

"The people of this state can have absolute full confidence that when these reforms are passed, people will still be hired based on merit," Walker said.

Republicans said they were hoping to introduce their legislation on Monday, September 28th. They are aiming for a vote late next month.