The merit system required that employees be selected on the basis of their skill, rather than their work for a political party. William J. Cremer, a Jefferson City native, was the first state hospital superintendent hired under the merit system. He treated other hospital workers as professionals and began the innovative practice of employee training. While perhaps not all political hacks, some previous employees offered inadequate care to their patients. As one nurse said, "Well, they didn't know how to take a temperature reading…blood pressure…how to turn a patient…We had some real good people, and we had some that weren't worth a darn." The merit system expected to change that.
"All employees in the state eleemosynary and penal institutions, and other state employees as provided by law, shall be selected on the basis of merit, ascertained as nearly as practicable by competitive examinations"
From the Constitution of the State of Missouri, Article IV, Section 19 (approved 1945, amended 1971)
"There is increasing recognition by the public that they are entitled to have their governmental activities handled in a businesslike and impartial manner."
Governor Forrest Donnell quoting Minnesota law in his inaugural address,1941.