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NJ Legislative Leaders Debate Sick Leave Payouts [AUDIO]

(L-R)KevinMcArdle, State Senator Tom Kean, Assemblyman Lou Greenwald, Senate President Steve Sweeney, Assemblyman Dave Rible, NJBIA Pres Phil Kirschner (Stacy Proebstle/Townsquare Media NJ)

How much should we cap unused sick day cash outs for public employees?

That was a hot topic of conversation between Republicans and Democrats on a legislative panel hosted by the New Jersey Business & Industry Association Tuesday in Iselin.

The day-long annual conference titled, “Maintaining the Momentum” started off with a legislative panel hosted by Townsquare Media’s own State House Correspondent Kevin McArdle.

Two democrats, Senate President Steve Sweeney and Assemblyman Lou Greenwald were joined by GOP members Senator Tom Kean and Assemblyman Dave Rible for the hour-long discussion.

McArdle asked the four legislators about their views on sick leave payouts for public employees at retirement and if they support Governor Christie’s proposal to eliminate them entirely.

Senate Minority Leader Tom Kean said he agrees with the governor, “the legislature should do away with payouts altogether and keep them at zero because its the right thing to do.”

Democratic state Senator Paul Sarlo had proposed a bill to cap them at $7,500. Christie earlier in the week called it “a joke.”

“I don’t think that is the solution, we need to do something with long term and lasting impact and once we pass it, that’s it, the law is changed” said Kean.

Republican Assemblyman David Rible said the state should follow the State Police model. “It doesn’t provide payouts but offers a generous amount of them during the life of the officer’s career.”

But Assemblyman Lou Greenwald says if we want to attack sick leave payouts, “we have to find a level of compromise just like we did with pension and benefit reform and stop the bully pulpit if we want to solve the problem.”

Senate President Steve Sweeney seemed to be caught in the middle.

“I am not far off from the governor’s use it or lose it policy, but i do see Senator Sarlo’s point…it could wind up costing yor more money running your government than saving you money.”

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