TRENTON – The state report today that disclosed millions of taxpayer dollars lost due to paid leave for labor representatives played right into the administration’s hands and its claims of union leaders’ entrenched abuse of public monies.
“Governor Christie has been pointing out this egregious practice and abuse of taxpayer dollars since he took office,” said Gov. Christie spokesman Michael Drewniak in a statement issued this afternoon.
“The SCI report is right on the mark. This shady, often-hidden public subsidy of union leave from paid public employment costs us all millions every year and must end.”
The report by the state Commission of Investigation detailed more than $30 million in taxpayer dollars lost to teachers, police, and other public employees who have been on paid leave as union officials in some cases for decades.
“It’s just another rip-off of the taxpayer, not unlike the accrual of sick days that result in obscene payouts at the end of public employment,” the governor’s office said.
The administration used the opportunity to berate Democrats.
“Those in the Democratic party who continue to oppose reforms are patrons and enablers of these practices because of their reliance on union dollars for campaigns. They need to own up to that, sever that reliance and side with the taxpayers on these basic, common sense reforms.”
According to the administration, major public employee unions take in tens of millions of dollars in membership dues, and much of that money goes toward “attack advertising” against their critics.
“Only those who benefit from the practice condemned in the SCI report can justify its continued existence. It certainly is not in the public interest; it’s all about serving special interests,” the governor’s office said.
Sen. Christopher Bateman, (R-16), Branchburg, wasted little time pouncing on the report’s findings.
He said he will introduce legislation to adopt the SCI recommendations to curtail the abuse.
“This shamefully abusive practice needs to stop immediately,” Bateman said in a release. “Taxpayers in many communities already suffer the greatest property tax burdens that stem, in part, from rich union benefits. We absolutely should not have to pay for salaries, pensions and benefits for estranged public servants to conduct union business.”