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Governor says union bills must take back seat to personnel plan

Gov. Jan Brewer (Photo by Ryan Cook/RJ Cook Photography)

The Ninth Floor is warning lawmakers not to pass a slew of anti-union bills until Gov. Jan Brewer’s personnel reform plan is on her desk and ready for her signature.

Brewer spokesman Matthew Benson said the governor will not consider signing any of the union bills until her long-sought personnel plan, which would eliminate merit protection for state employees, is on her desk.

Benson said Brewer held off on pushing the proposal in 2011 at the request of legislative leadership, but that lawmakers need to move forward on her top priority “before pursuing these ancillary proposals.”

“Personnel reform is the governor’s priority, and she wants to see that proposal taken up by the Legislature and sent to her for her approval before she’ll consider this package of union measures,” Benson said. “She was patient with the Legislature last session when they weren’t ready to pursue this yet and her patience is running out. She wants them to take up this personnel reform bill as soon as possible and she’s not going to consider signing into law these union measures until personnel is on her desk.”

Benson also distanced the Governor’s Office from the union legislation, which he said was being inaccurately characterized as part of a package the personnel plan.

“The union bills are not the governor’s proposals,” he said.

The Senate Government Reform Committee on Wednesday approved four Republican measures to prohibit collective bargaining with public employee unions and to impose other restrictions on them.

No lawmaker has yet introduced legislation for Brewer’s personnel plan, despite the fact that the deadline for new bills in the Senate was on Monday and the House deadline is in four days. The proposal is ready to go, Benson said, but the governor is still searching for a sponsor.

Benson said legislation will be introduced “very soon,” though he didn’t know whether it would be introduced before the House deadline or afterward as a strike-everything amendment.

He wouldn’t say why the proposal hasn’t been introduced yet but indicated the holdup was due to legislative leadership.

“There’s only two partners in this dance here, right? I think that you’d have to ask the Legislature what the holdup is,” Benson said.

The governor has not taken a position on the union bills and Benson reiterated her policy of not commenting on legislation until it reaches her desk.

“I don’t want to say that she’s willing to sign them. At this point the governor has not taken a position on these proposals,” he said.

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