Tag: sick day reform

Sick time payments costing Hackensack millions

Declan O'Scanlon

Source: NJ.com -

Towns and cities like Hackensack have had to borrow millions for payments for unused sick time, the Record reported.

Some retiring police supervisors in Hackensack cashed in on more than $300,000 as part of benefit packages written into public-employee contracts years ago.

A bill sponsored by Assemblyman Declan O’Scanlon and Assemblywomen Caroline Casagrande, Nancy Munoz and Donna Simon would end sick-time payouts.

Caroline Casagrande

Though 89 percent of towns who responded to a survey taken in 2012 by the New Jersey League of Municipalities said they limited the amount of sick time paid out at retirement, such limits typically don’t apply to to longtime employees who got the benefits when they were hired. Gov. Chris Christie’s 2 percent cap on municipal property tax levy increases still allows towns to bond to pay for sick leave buyouts.

Nancy Munoz

Ken Zisa, the disgraced former Hackensack police chief, was one of 30 city employees who cashed out on thousands in unused sick and vacation time as part of a $4.7 million bond ordinance approved in 2010. Zisa was arrested on insurance fraud charges days after receiving his $94,000 claim.

Donna Simon

In May, news that 25 retiring police employees would cost Jersey City around $5 million in payments for unused sick, vacation and comp days prompted four state Republicans argue in favor of statewide reform for sick-leave payouts. A bill sponsored by Assemblyman Declan O’Scanlon and Assemblywomen Caroline Casagrande, Nancy Munoz and Donna Simon would end sick-time payouts.

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Casagrande: NJ Transit proves sick pay reform saves money

The transportation agency paid $2.9 million less in 2012 than it did in 2011 to employees cashing out their unused sick and vacation time.

The amount paid by NJ Transit for unused vacation and sick time plummeted because of a policy change in 2011. The change effectively eliminated “cash-outs” for newly hired non-union workers and reduced the amount owed to existing workers.

That change came after a 2011 Press article showed the agency paid $3.6 million to workers who cashed out their unused sick and vacation time in 2010. One week later, NJ Transit changed its policy and eliminated those payouts to non-union employees.

The practice of allowing employees to cash out their unused sick and vacation time has been a pet peeve of Gov. Chris Christie’s administration, which has sought to eliminate the practice in state government. A governor’s spokesman praised NJ Transit for the savings.

Caroline Casagrande

Assemblywoman Caroline Casagrande, R-Monmouth, who has proposed bills to end the cash-out practice, said NJ Transit’s savings are an example the Legislature can look to to show savings to taxpayers if the payout reforms were enacted across state and local governments.

She is also seeking to close loopholes, such as “terminal leave” provisions, which allow an employee with accrued sick or vacation time to leave and still collect a paycheck in lieu of a cash-out.

From: Asbury Park Press

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Simon: Sick-time payouts a looming disaster

Donna Simon

The following is a letter to the editor by Assemblywoman Donna Simon published by the Courier-News.

There is a ticking time bomb in the 16th Legislative District. It would cause $27 million worth of damage to families, seniors and small businesses struggling to make ends meet.

This is the amount it would cost local property taxpayers to cover all of the unused sick and vacation time accrued by public employees in the towns I represent in parts of Hunterdon, Somerset, Mercer and Middlesex counties. The price tag statewide is a staggering $825 million.

Public employees should use sick days when they’re sick, not as another retirement plan subsidized by overburdened families and seniors.

As a former municipal official, I understand what a problem this is for property taxpayers. As a member of the Assembly State Government Committee, I helped lead the charge to fix it.

Unfortunately, Trenton Democrats who control that committee won’t commit to real reform. Their so-called compromise was to cap these payouts at $7,500 per employee. Taxpayers deserve more.

In an effort to break the partisan logjam and achieve real savings, I would consider a proposal that allows public employees to retain their sick time for future illness, as long as it ends any payment for unused time.

Unfortunately, some Trenton politicians aren’t willing to compromise even when it’s in the best interest of taxpayers and this $27 million time bomb continues to tick because the Trenton Democrats don’t have the courage to defuse it.

I will keep pressing for real property tax reform until our hard-working families and seniors no longer have to pay for unused sick and vacation time. I encourage my constituents to call my office at (908) 968-3304 or email me at AswSimon@njleg.org to let me know how you feel about this issue.

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Casagrande, Simon want no future sick day payouts

The Assembly State Government Committee voted 3-2 along partisan lines to approve the two measures. Republicans opposed it because they want no future payouts at all.

Workers would still collect the sick time they’ve already accumulated as cash payouts when they retire. Unionized workers would also have to collectively bargain to get the $7,500 towards retirement benefits.

The plan is different than the one Senate President Stephen Sweeney (D-Gloucester) has proposed in the upper house, which adheres more closely to Gov. Chris Christie’s plan to end all future payouts for sick leave that the governor jokingly describes as “boat checks,” referring to retired workers using the payouts to buy boats.

Christie conditionally vetoed a bill last year that would have capped the payouts at $15,000.

Caroline Casagrande

“We, having gone through this process last year, should probably be aware that the administration has made it very clear that these types of bills with continued payouts will continue to be vetoed,” said Assemblywoman Caroline Casagrande, R-Monmouth.

Read the complete Star-Ledger story here.

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Could wine shipping legislation lead to property tax relief?

A measure that would allow wineries to bypass distributors by shipping directly to consumers and retailers may hold the key to passage of one of Gov. Chris Christie’s signature issues: ending payouts to retiring public employees for unused sick days.

The bill has the backing of the state’s most powerful Democrat, Senate President Stephen Sweeney (D-Gloucester), who bypassed a Senate committee and ignored the objections of other Democrats to get the bill before the full legislature on Monday, the last day of the current session.

Democrats in the Assembly appear to lack the 41 votes necessary to pass the measure, which means they will need Republican support. According to two Republicans who are familiar with the party’s plans but not authorized to speak publicly, that support will come at a cost.

“On this issue, like most, my friends on the other side of the aisle would be wise to include us,” Assembly Declan O’Scanlon (R-Monmouth) said. “Our input would improve legislation and they never know when they’ll need us.”

Read the complete Star-Ledger story here.

On Thursday, evidence of the Republican strategy was on full display during a meeting of the Assembly Budget Committee as they abstained from voting on the bill. It was a not-so-subtle warning to Democrats.

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Rible on panel for sick day reform

How much should we cap unused sick day cash outs for public employees?

That was a hot topic of conversation between Republicans and Democrats on a legislative panel hosted by the New Jersey Business & Industry Association Tuesday in Iselin.

Republican Assemblyman David Rible said the state should follow the State Police model. “It doesn’t provide payouts but offers a generous amount of them during the life of the officer’s career.”

Read the complete NJ 101.5 FM story here.

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