Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R), who has so far fallen well short on his promise of 250,000 new jobs by 2015, at the same time has created phantom jobs to boost his employees’ pay, including some top aides. Wisconsin state personnel rules limit the amount employees salary can rise each year. But according to a Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel report, the Walker administration has repeatedly used “phantom job transfers” to evade state pay limits to give significant raises to multiple employees — including the state’s key economist.
Wisconsin Department of Revenue chief economist John Koskinen, for example, was “transferred through three different high-level jobs at the state Department of Administration and then back to his original post, picking up bumps in his pay as he ping-ponged among them. Along the way, the longtime state employee shed his status as a political appointee and strengthened his civil-service job protections.” While Koskinen was “never expected to do any work at his shadow jobs,” the maneuver increased his salary 14.4 percent, to $114,917 — more than double the median Wisconsin household income. Koskinen’s defense of Walker’s economic record was widely circulated by supporters in the lead-up to the unsuccessful 2012 gubernatorial recall vote. The phantom job method was also used to give significant pay raises to other employees.
Common Cause Wisconsin executive director Jay Heck blasted the approach, telling the Journal-Sentinel that the Walker administration’s flouting of the state’s pay rules “just creates a deep suspicion about what else is going on.”
Ironically, Walker ran on a platform of government spending reform and transparency. “Government is spending your money,” he noted on his 2010 campaign site, “and you have a right to know when, where, and how much.”