Our View: Vote ‘yes’ on Amendment S
October 13, 2012
Amendment S is a constitutional amendment that would update the state's personnel system to allow for greater flexibility in appointments and hiring.
The amendment was referred by the state Legislature by a two-thirds vote from the state House and Senate. It has the support of Gov. John Hickenlooper. We think the amendment, which would be the first update to the state personnel system section of the Constitution in more than 40 years, is reasonable, and we urge residents to vote "yes" on Amendment S.
Specifically, Amendment S would:
■ Expand preferences given to veterans in the hiring process
■ Expand the number of candidates eligible to be appointed to positions
■ Adjust the duration of allowable temporary employment
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■ Allow greater flexibility in removing positions from the state system
■ Modify the residency requirements to make residents who live within 30 miles of Colorado to be eligible for hire
■ Adjust terms of service for the state personnel board
■ Require merit appointments to be made through a comparative analysis process
We particularly like the expansion of preferences given to veterans in the state hiring process. Under current law, veterans are given five "preference points," but they can use the preference points only one time. Amendment S would allow for the use of preference points in each job a veteran pursues.
Amendment S allows for workers to serve in a temporary job for as many as nine months in a 12-month period rather than the current limit of six months in a 12-month period. That move seems reasonable.
Currently, hiring for state jobs is based almost exclusively on the results of job placement exams. Amendment S would allow other factors, such as previous experience, to be considered in the hiring process.
Finally, Amendment S would broaden the number of exempted employees, including political appointees, up to 1 percent of the total number of jobs within the state. Presently, there are about 32,500 state employees. Exempted employees generally are in management positions and work at the will of the state. The state or the employee may terminate the employment relationship at any time.
Critics of Amendment S argue that the law gives the governor's office too much power to appoint people to and remove them from state positions. We disagree. The governor should have the power to put in place the staff necessary to implement his or her agenda. If the governor misuses this power, the people have the opportunity to vote the governor out of office.
We take a cautious approach to endorsing constitutional amendments. We have stated many times that a high threshold must be surpassed in order to amend the state's governing document. Amendment S is an appropriate update to the state's personnel system that has bipartisan legislative support. It surpasses our threshold for constitutional amendments. Vote "yes" on Amendment S.