The Republican candidates in District 27 tried to make a statement today with a pre-Labor Day, rain-spattered press conference, trying to put the stomachs of Democrats in knots even as most insiders say the newly conceived Morris County portion of the 27th with additional GOP numbers won’t be enough to dethrone state Sen. Richard Codey (D-27) and his allies.
Problem number one for the GOP here was the post primary disconnect between the establishment-backed Assembly candidates and state Senate candidate Bill Eames of East Hanover, a proud Tea Partier.
“At this point there are discussions going on…not sure how coordinated they are going to be…but there is communication,” a source close to the campaign said.
The lower house hopefuls have a separate operation and conducted their Chatham Township press conference as a duo, targeting Assemblyman John McKeon, (D-27), and Assemblywoman Mila Jasey, (D-27), for failing to stop payouts for unused sick leave and vacation days to retiring public employees.
Chatham Mayor Nicole Hagner and Livingston attorney Lee Holtzman said they would immediately support limits on payouts for unused sick days and vacation days as part of an overall effort to control property taxes. Last year the state paid out $43 million to retirees for unused time and owes an estimated $825 million for accumulated sick and vacation days for current employees working their way toward retirement.
“Cash-strapped taxpayers are tired of picking up a newspaper, or turning to the internet and reading that another public employee walked off — not only with a generous pension, but a huge termination buyout such as the $740,000 retirement deal struck for the Keansburg School Superintendent, a few years ago,” said Holtzman. “If New Jersey is ever going to have a realistic chance of significantly lowering property taxes, we must begin by closing off payout loopholes and shutting down perks that allow government workers to walk away with tens of thousands of dollars for unused sick and vacation days.”
Both Holtzman and Hagner said legislation capping employee buyouts must be approved immediately and must apply to all current and future government employees on all levels of government.
“While I am proud of the progress we have made here in Chatham,” said Hagner, in reference to her town’s elimination of cash payments for unused vacation days and capping unused sick leave days to between $5,000 and $7,500 for each public works employees and $20,000 for police officers, “I know more can be done and should be done on a statewide basis. We cannot have a state with 566 different rules governing buyouts of municipal employees and more than 600 regulations for school district employees. Such a hodge-podge of competing rules creates upward pressure on employee costs that are ultimately paid by homeowners.
“The reality is that New Jersey can’t afford what the union bosses and the Democrats want,” the mayor added.