State employees are not 'political hacks'

November 05, 2003

Dear Editor:

As a state employee, I was offended by Steve Pence's remark that state employees are "political hacks." Perhaps, Pence was not aware of the status of state employees. By law, we are virtually disenfranchised. We cannot participate in a partisan election except for voting. In many ways, we are not very different from other populations who have been denied their political rights. However, a few people do receive favors because their family or friends have political ties. This tradition is not the fault of one political party, but is ingrained in the culture of the Commonwealth of Kentucky.

Mr. Pence should not have over-generalized. A large majority of state employees received their jobs the hard way. We obtained the appropriate education, took qualifying exams and most likely scoring in the top 5 percent of those who took that particular exam.

Am I a "political hack"? This is my story.


In early 1971, I qualified and was interviewed for a state position, but lost out to a political appointee who was chosen over me. When I was finally hired to a different position months later, like most state employees, I worked hard, spending many extra hours on the job, and sometimes even risking my life to carry out my responsibilities.

For the first 20 years, my reward: not commendations, not pay increases, nor promotions, but low pay, much less time for my family and myself, and health problems. Nevertheless, I remained dedicated to doing my job and to further educating myself through regular study, course work and graduate school. All of my education, except for one course, was at my own expense.

Now that I have worked 27 years, the state's budget crisis has deprived me of the raises and achievement awards that I would have ordinarily received for the extra education and special licensure. I am looking at retirement with uncertainty as the national and state economies suffer. Although the state does not contribute to our retirement fund, I do not know if my retirement and the medical coverage that I was promised will be available.

If state employees are "political hacks" we should hope that the future state administration provides for its "political hacks" rather than seek to downsize or abolish their jobs. Otherwise, who will build and maintain your roads, police your state roads, provide security for your prisons, investigate child abuse and neglect and domestic violence, provide homes for needy children and many other essential needs?

Billie Jones Stockton


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