- Associated Press - Thursday, May 28, 2015

MADISON, Wis. (AP) - Gov. Scott Walker’s plan to eliminate about 30 scientist and educator positions in the Department of Natural Resources could result in the agency losing dozens of additional positions his proposal doesn’t account for, according to a report from state fiscal analysts.

The governor’s budget calls for eliminating 18.4 scientist positions within the DNR’s Science Services Bureau and 11 natural resource educators - part of a larger proposal to slash 80 positions within the agency. The DNR would be left with 18.6 scientist positions in the science bureau and seven educator positions.

According to the nonpartisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau, four scientist positions and two educator positions are currently vacant. Walker’s administration has said current employees could be bumped into other jobs.

Opponents have warned the cuts could devastate the DNR’s ability to perform research on anything from trout streams to wildlife genetics to deer monitoring.

The River Alliance of Wisconsin, which opposes the cuts, released a fiscal bureau memo on Thursday that notes before the DNR could lay anyone off, it would have to group the targeted positions according to job title.

Under state law, all limited-term, project and probationary employees who share those job titles would have to go before the first permanent employee would lose his or her job.

For example, before the DNR could lay off any permanent research scientist, it would have to eliminate 49 limited-term, project and probationary research scientists. If the agency creates an educator group to be laid off, it could end up getting rid of 41 limited-term, probationary and project positions that fall into that designation, according to the LFB memo.

“There’s a multiplier effect to this decision,” Steve Born, a retired University of Wisconsin-Madison urban planner who worked with the DNR, said during a River Alliance news conference Thursday to protest the cuts. “Over time, the loss of their knowledge base … will start to erode the quality of decisions we make.”

The Legislature’s Joint Finance Committee is set to consider Walker’s plan during a session Friday. The committee could approve the plan, revise it or delete it from the budget altogether.

Rep. John Nygren, R-Marinette, and Sen. Alberta Darling, R-River Hills, who lead the finance committee. Their offices didn’t immediately return an email message seeking comment.

Copyright © 2018 The Washington Times, LLC.

The Washington Times Comment Policy

The Washington Times is switching its third-party commenting system from Disqus to Spot.IM. You will need to either create an account with Spot.im or if you wish to use your Disqus account look under the Conversation for the link "Have a Disqus Account?". Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.


Click to Read More

Click to Hide