2011 Will End Without Public Workers’ Payout Law [AUDIO]
The battle rages on over how much taxpayer money should be used to fund huge end-of-career payouts for public workers' unused sick and vacation time.
The chairman of the State Senate Budget Committee is sponsoring a bill to cap the cash-outs. He calls it a compromise, but Governor Chris Christie calls it a joke.
Democratic Senator Paul Sarlo's legislation would cap the payouts at $7,500. He says Christie is blocking the bill over a relatively small difference that would end unlimited payouts for all future employees.
"This is a great Democratic argument; we must bribe people to come to work because if we don't they'll commit fraud in order not to come to work and we have no ability to be able to police that," explains Christie. "The people of New Jersey know that that is a complete pile of garbage."
The Governor thinks they are several ways to police it. He says, "If people start taking excessive sick leave then we start demanding, as we are allowed to under the law, notes from doctors. We perform investigations where we need to of people who we think are doing that kind of thing and we bring appropriate actions against whether they be employment actions or criminal actions against them."
Christie says, "Only a liberal Democrat could say that a $7,500 cap that leads to three-and-a-quarter billion dollars in additional expenses for state, county and local governments is a small amount of money…..Three-and-a-quarter billion dollars is not a small amount of money and it doesn't represent a compromise. It represents him (Sarlo) selling himself out to the public sector unions."
Sarlo's bill would end the huge six-figure payouts that are doled out to some retiring public employees and the Senator thinks his measure would discourage public workers from using up all of their sick time every single year, but those arguments aren't resonating with Christie.
The Governor says, "Let's just get down to it, okay? Zero should mean zero and I don't see myself compromising on this……Everybody understands that sick leave should be when you're sick and their argument is; Well, people may use it otherwise in a fraudulent way therefore we have to pay them not to commit fraud."
For weeks, Christie has been hammering Democrats for not eliminating the payouts completely. Last week he pointed out that the current system is "another benefit that's given to public sector employees that they've come to count on, but that we simply can no longer afford to demand from the highest burdened taxpayers in America…I thought this would be a relatively easy and uncontroversial part of the toolkit.
This should be easy. It makes no sense…I'm really calling on the Legislature- let's get this done during the lame duck session. This is a clean-up item. Let's finish it. Let's clear the page on this. Let's get to the work of doing the right thing."