Governor Walker signs bill overhauling Wisconsin civil service laws

MADISON — Gov. Scott Walker has signed Republican-backed legislation to overhaul Wisconsin's civil service system.

The governor signed the measure Friday.

The bill makes sweeping changes to civil service protections, which are designed to keep officials from handing out government jobs as rewards to their political allies.

The changes include eliminating job applicant exams, centralizing hiring decisions within the governor's administration, and tossing layoff protections for more senior workers. The bill also defines what amounts to just cause for discipline and lists infractions that would result in immediate firing.

Democrats say the bill opens the door to cronyism within state agencies. But critics say the protections lead to inefficiencies, offer little incentive for hard work and unfairly protect employees who behave badly.

The changes will affect about 30,000 state workers.