Assorted Christie: stance on sick leave, support for Col. Fuentes, update on Camden’s crime

TRENTON – In response to one of various questions lobbed by the press today, Gov. Chris Christie said he isn’t particularly open to a compromise on sick leave reform.

He lambasted state Sen. Paul Sarlo (D-36), of Wood-Ridge, for the budget chair’s comments on Democrats’ proposed cap on sick leave. Initially, the Democrats passed a $15,000 cap, which was vetoed by the governor; now they are trying to use $7,500 as a point of compromise. Christie insists the new cap would inflate statewide liability for sick leave to $3.75 billion.

Sarlo called the difference between a cap and no payout at all a “relatively small difference,” as the Associated Press paraphrased him.

“Only a liberal Democrat like Paul Sarlo could say something like that with a straight face,” Christie responded today. He accused Sarlo of “selling himself out to the public sector unions.”

Sarlo is arguing that people might use all of their sick leave every year – which Christie has referred to as “fraudulent” – if they are given the payout incentive to bank the time.

Christie said he doesn’t understand how “potential fraud” could be a roadblock for reform. His proposal allows workers to keep already accrued time that has yet to be paid out, but zeroes out any payouts in the future. “Zero should be zero,” he said, “and I don’t see myself compromising on this.”

Sports betting

Asked whether his administration is opposed to particular language in state Sen. Ray Lesniak’s (D-20), of Elizabeth, sports betting bill, Christie was somewhat cryptic in his response.

The question was particular to a provision of the bill that would allow for access to betting interfaces on the internet and on a smart phone. Christie said he wouldn’t comment publically on the problems his administration has with the bill, but confirmed that they do have problems.

“I have concerns,” he said, but it will be up to his office to convey those concerns to the legislators directly.

Camden crime

Asked what steps, if any, the state is taking to subdue the swelling crime rates in Camden, Christie punted.

“They’re going to have to deal with a lot of these issues alone,” he said, but allowed a caveat: “We’re going to provide help, but I’m not prepared to announce that today.”

State Police

Following reports that the State Police union passed a vote of no-confidence in regards to the leadership of Police Superintendent Colonel Joseph “Rick” Fuentes, Christie was curt responding to a press inquiry on the matter.

“I have confidence in the superintendent,” he said. “I think he serves the state of New Jersey well.”

Assorted Christie: stance on sick leave, support for Col. Fuentes, update on Camden’s crime