New Jersey Governor Chris Christie said he won’t compromise with Democratic lawmakers on his proposal to prohibit government workers from getting paid for unused sick time when they retire.
Christie said he won’t sign the measure unless it ends the payouts. The first-term Republican vetoed a Democratic-sponsored bill last year that would have capped the payments at $15,000. A version with a $7,500 limit would cost taxpayers $3.25 billion if all current state and local employees retired, Christie has said.
Senator Paul Sarlo, a Democrat from Wood-Ridge and a sponsor of the bill, wants Christie to agree to a cap to discourage employees from using up their sick time each year, the Associated Press reported. Sarlo didn’t immediately return a telephone call seeking comment on the measure.
“Everybody understands that sick time is for when you are sick,” Christie, 49, told reporters today in Trenton. “Their argument is people may use it otherwise in a fraudulent way, therefore we have to pay them not to commit fraud.”
Municipalities have accumulated more than $825 million in liabilities for unused sick and vacation days, which equates to an additional $250 on average for every property owner in New Jersey, according to Christie’s office.
New Jersey municipalities including the two most-populous, Newark and Jersey City, had to borrow to make the payments after cutting jobs to balance their budgets. Towns in the state paid workers $43 million for unused sick and vacation time last year, according to Christie’s office.
Christie said last week that more than 230 mayors, Republicans and Democrats, back his proposal. He called on lawmakers to approve it before the Jan. 9 end of the legislative session.
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