Christie signs law granting back pay to state workers furloughed in shutdown
Gov. Chris Christie has enacted the law granting back pay to state workers to cover the wages lost during the three-day partial government shutdown at the start of July.
An estimated 30,000 to 35,000 workers were furloughed. Most of them were off the job for one day, as the first two days of the shutdown fell on a weekend -- though some would have been on the job on Saturday and Sunday, such as parks workers.
“This bill justly reinstates the pay lost by our hard-working rank and file state workers who were not at fault for the three-day government closure that disrupted services and inconvenienced our citizens when the adoption of a Fiscal 2018 budget stalled in the Legislature,” Christie said. “I thank Senate President Sweeney and Speaker Prieto for acting on this legislation to reimburse our dedicated state workers.”
Christie didn't indicate when workers will receive the back pay. He said the law takes effect immediately, enabling the state Department of the Treasury to begin acting on the reimbursements as quickly as possible.
At the height of the standoff with lawmakers that led to the new state fiscal year starting without an approved budget, Christie said workers shouldn't count on getting back pay for days they were furloughed. But he backed off that position when a deal was reached.
However, Christie said he wasn't able to pay the workers without specific authorization from the Legislature.
In 2006, the only other time a budget-related problem led to a partial state shutdown, workers were compensated for their missed time though language added to the delayed budget bill.
That wasn't done this time, so the Senate and Assembly returned to Trenton for rare summer voting sessions. The Senate voted 32-0 on July 13 to approve the back-pay bill, S3422, and the Assembly approved it 68-0 on Monday.
Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto, D-Hudson, continues to say Christie has "clear authority" to have paid workers immediately, an assertion Christie has sharply disputed.
"It’s unfortunate that Gov. Christie made state workers wait needlessly for so long for their pay, but at least he took time to sign this bill," Prieto said.
“The hard-working employees who perform public service jobs were unable to do their jobs through no fault of their own," said Senate President Stephen Sweeney, D-Gloucester. "We acted quickly on this bill so there is no uncertainty in the minds of the workers. They rely on their paychecks to support themselves and their families.”
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