Assembly GOP wants action on sick leave payout bill; Dems say Christie vetoed earlier attempt

TRENTON – The specter of Jersey City having to pay $5 million for approximately 25 retiring police department employees has led four lawmakers to urge action on sick pay reform legislation.

GOP Assembly members Caroline Casagrande, Nancy Muñoz, Donna Simon and Declan O’Scanlon sent a letter to the Assembly State Government Committee Chairwoman Linda Stender urging her to post A2495 for action at the next committee meeting.

“It’s no surprise that expensive sick leave payouts have not cured themselves,” Casagrande said in a release.

“Trenton politicians have not stopped this wasteful practice and property taxpayers throughout the state continue to pay millions of dollars to public employees who had the good fortune of staying healthy.”

And referencing Jersey City Mayor-elect Steve Fulop’s call for an audit in the wake of the payout issue, O’Scanlon said in a release that “No public official should have to enter office having to figure out how to save taxpayers from a $5 million bomb shell just because Trenton politicians won’t do the right thing.

“We can defuse this bomb in the future with a uniform statewide policy that stays: Sick leave is for when you’re sick.”

The bill, introduced back in February 2012, has not seen action.  It is sponsored by numerous Republican Assembly members.

It would prohibit payments to public employees at retirement for unused sick leave.

Also, it would mandate forfeiture of unused sick leave pay for criminal convictions, and require documentation for use of sick leave.

The bill would be in effect for such pay earned after it becomes law.

Assembly Democrats’ spokesman Tom Hester responded to the GOP letter.

“Republicans surely remember how the Assembly voted 78-0 to pass a sick leave reform bill sponsored by, among others, Assemblywoman Casagrande, only to see it vetoed by Gov. Christie, who clearly was more interested in preserving the issue for rhetoric than achieving actual reform,”  Hester said.

“If the Republicans are actually interested in reform, the Assembly Democrats, as always, stand ready to work with them in hopes of convincing the governor to sign a bill. Notwithstanding the governor’s veto, sick leave payout is a negotiable item at the local level, so local officials are always able to take action to stop it.”

Assembly GOP wants action on sick leave payout bill; Dems say Christie vetoed earlier attempt