Newly elected Gov. Bill Walker and his administration have asked for the resignations of some 200 state employees as he transitions into office.
While it is fairly common practice for governors — Parnell asked for the resignations of all appointed commissioners, deputy commissioners and division directors in 2010 when he was elected — it is with some trepidation that we consider the direction the new administration is heading.
The Walker and Byron Mallott administration is facing potential turning points on several key issues for the state, including Medicaid expansion — which the Governor said during his inaugural address that he would do — the Alaska LNG pipeline, the dropping price of oil and a state budget that will need severe cuts to remain viable in the coming years.
The clean sweeps are common, but where is the wisdom in eliminating the institutional knowledge of people who have been working in their positions for years?
State government needs a shakeup every once in awhile and it’s a good thing that the Walker administration is not afraid to start that process. But, given the complexity of the tasks that lay before them, perhaps making those changes incrementally would have been a better idea.
Like the governors before him, Walker has to release the budget of his predecessor to satisfy the Dec. 15 deadline for proposing a budget.
He’ll have to rely somewhat on the knowledge of the former governor during the budget process and he should be comfortable relying on the knowledge of some of the administrators that he has asked to resign.
Regardless of political affiliation, many of those in appointed positions have some level of experience that made them the right person for the job. That kind of expertise shouldn’t be replaced in a time when state government needs to respond quickly and thoughtfully to the issues at hand.
A spokesperson from the Walker administration said that not all of the resignation requests would be honored and that several hundred had applied for the open posts.
There is bound to be some new blood coming in — but it would be wise for the new governor to remember that he’ll need competent and experienced advisers in the coming years, not just people who helped get him elected.
The smartest people in the room should not be asked to leave the room.