A proposed bipartisan bill could cap the typically large payouts many public workers receive when they retire, but it would not eliminate the checks completely.

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For years, Gov. Chris Christie has been urging the state legislature to eliminate huge end-of-career payouts to public employees for their unused sick days. Because some of the payouts have been in the six-figures, Christie has taken to calling them "boat checks" because the checks would cover the cost of buying a new boat. A new bi-partisan bill would cap the payouts, but not do away with them totally.

"In an ideal world I'd like to bring it down to zero, but that's not going to happen with this Senate and this Assembly," said bill co-sponsor State Sen. Joe Kyrillos (R-Middletown). "We would limit it to $15,000 of accumulated sick time over a long career in government. We can probably live with that."

Current public employees would be compensated for all of the sick time they have already built up under the bill.

"The money that they've accrued over time would not be affected. This is all prospective. It's not past-tense in any way," Kyrillos explained.

The legislation would also place a limit on the carrying forward of vacation leave for one year only. The bill also bans the use of six or more consecutive days of accumulated sick leave, without medical need verified in writing by a doctor. The measure would help taxpayers who don't need to be sent a "message," Kyrillos said.

"They already have the message. The message is they can't afford the taxes that we've got here in New Jersey. This is a component of a high property tax bill. There are lots of others reasons for it, but this is one we can do something about," Kyrillos explained.

The governor's spokespeople did not respond to a request seeking comment on the bill which is co-sponsored by State Sen. President Steve Sweeney (D-West Deptford) and State Sen. Jennifer Beck (R-Red bank).


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