Sweeney’s sick leave bill makes Christie happy

WESTFIELD – Took a while, but Gov. Chris Christie is finally excited about the prospects of sick leave reform. A

WESTFIELD – Took a while, but Gov. Chris Christie is finally excited about the prospects of sick leave reform. A bill submitted by state Sen. President Steve Sweeney, (D-3), West Deptford, split the difference between Christie’s proposal – which ended the cash value payouts, but also required a drawdown of banked time – and that of state Sen. Paul Sarlo, (D-36), Wood-Ridge, which capped the payouts at $7,500 and did not require a future drawdown.

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Sweeney’s bill zeroes out the cash value, but has no requirement for usage of banked time off in the future.

Following a town hall on Wednesday, Christie said, “I’m very encouraged by Sen. Sweeney’s bill…He’s taken a very courageous step.”

A Statehouse source said the negotiations over a sick leave compromise began in earnest last year, but were dragged down due to union opposition. Sweeney, the source said, had had enough, and Christie is glad.

“Now I think he and I will be able to find areas on compromise,” the governor said, noting some “minor” differences in the bill and the administration proposal laid out in Christie’s conditional veto of Sarlo’s original reform bill, which first set the cap on cash payouts at $15,000. One of the “minor” points of divergence, Christie said, was concerning terminal leave.

Christie said his and Sweeney’s staffs were talking about the bill “as we speak.” It is, he said, “another example of how he and I are working together to bring bipartisan (changes in Trenton).”

Sweeney’s sick leave bill makes Christie happy