Christie: NJ Towns Face $825M Bill for Sick Pay

Tuesday, 10 May 2011 04:30 PM

New Jersey municipalities face more than $825 million of bills for unused sick and vacation days accumulated by their workers, said Governor Chris Christie, who called for an immediate end to awarding such payouts.

“What they are saying is that you are a money tree,” Christie, 48, told residents at a gathering in Evesham today. “If they want to do something like pay $825 million in sick- leave payouts, they’ll just raise your property taxes.”

Christie, a first-term Republican, has criticized the “do- nothing” Legislature for failing to act on proposals he says will help control growth in property taxes, already the highest in the nation. Democrats control both legislative chambers.

Under New Jersey law, employees in many of the state’s 566 municipalities can bank unused sick and vacation time, which they can cash in at retirement.

Christie vetoed Democratic-sponsored legislation in December that would have capped sick and vacation payouts at $15,000 for new workers. He wants to phase out the payouts altogether and force current employees to use banked time before taking new sick or vacation days.

The governor told residents that government workers call the payouts “boat checks” because they often use them to buy watercraft on retirement. “Sick leave is for when you’re sick - - not for a boat,” he said.

Assemblywoman Pamela Lampitt said Christie has failed to compromise on the issue.

“The governor is taking a my-way-or-the-highway approach to ending sick leave abuse,” Lampitt, a Camden Democrat, said in a statement. “Each and every day the governor chooses to play politics instead of negotiating real reform, the taxpayers lose.”

--Editors: Stacie Servetah, Ted Bunker

To contact the reporter on this story: Terrence Dopp in Nj Statehouse at tdopp@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Mark Tannenbaum at mtannen@bloomberg.net

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