Raleigh, N.C. — Gov. Pat McCrory says he needs more flexibility in hiring and firing state workers.
"One item that we're looking at is the state personnel act and legislation that would give us more flexibilities, including new (ways) to help promote and give incentives to employees who are doing good jobs and at the same time deal with employees who aren't doing good jobs," McCrory said at the end of Tuesday's Council of State meeting.
McCrory was trying to enlist his fellow statewide elected officials in a push for more flexibility in the state's hiring and firing practices.
The state personnel act is a 60-year-old law that governs how and when most state workers can be hired and fired. The governor has some flexibility when it comes to "exempt" positions, but others are subject to rigid rules when it comes to raising their salaries or being fired.
In 2012, lawmakers increased the number of "exempt" positions, giving the governor roughly 1,000 appointees throughout state government who may be hired and fired at will.
McCrory said changes he is seeking would allow cabinet secretaries and independently elected executives, such as the state treasurer, to better manage the rest of their employees who are not exempt from the SPA.
There is already a Senate bill filed to "modernize" the state personnel act, but lobbyists with the State Employees Association of North Carolina say they anticipate a bill will first move in the House.
Ardis Watkins, director of legislative affairs for SEANC, called moves to change the state personnel act "risky" and said lawmakers should avoid harming the act's core functions.
"The main (function) is to protect the public from having state employees who are put there not because of what they know but who they know," Watkins said.
McCrory said that he needs more flexibility to keep top talent while ridding the state of poor performers, such as a worker who hasn't been to the office in three months. McCrory said the average appeal of a firing decision is taking more than 400 days.
"I don't have any evidence that is the norm," Watkins said.
The House State Personnel Committee is expected to take up a personnel act bill Wednesday.
When reporters tried to speak with McCrory after the Council of State meeting to clarify what changes he would like to see, the governor and his press aide said he did not have time for questions.