Senator Gerald Cardinale Wednesday urged action on legislation ending lucrative sick leave payouts following news that Hackensack taxpayers are on the hook for $15 million to fund the unused sick and vacation time of city employees.
“For far too long taxpayers have been on the losing end of this ludicrous practice of awarding publicly funded jackpots to retiring local public employees who amassed unused sick days thanks to the blessing of good health,” said Cardinale (R-Bergen). “It’s time for Senate Democrats to pay attention to what’s best for all people by supporting measures to end these bloated checks that carry a $1 billion liability for New Jersey’s overburdened property taxpayers.”
Sick leave payouts ranging in the hundreds of thousands of dollars have forced Hackensack and other Bergen County towns to borrow millions of dollars. The liability statewide is roughly $1 billion.
Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg (D-Bergen) and League of Municipalities Executive Director William Dressel agreed it’s time to address the issue.
Cardinale added that most Senate Republicans agree with Dressel’s view: “It’s a drain on property taxes — these large payouts — and it’s something that should be addressed” as well as Weinberg’s sentiment: “I get angry when I hear municipal officials say that it’s the contract. It’s the contract they negotiated. That’s a lot of baloney.”
“While it’s encouraging to have seen the Senate President, Majority Leader and League Executive acknowledge this problem, it’s frustrating that the most overburdened taxpayers are continuing to pay these sick-leave jackpots while legislation ready to end the gross practice is being blocked by Democratic leaders,” Cardinale concluded. “We need a permanent statewide solution to this problem, which won’t be fixed in any lasting way via local contract negotiations. I urge leaders from across the aisle to work with the Governor to enact statute, maybe even the Senate President’s bill, to end this practice once and for all.”
Senate Republicans have repeatedly urged legislative Democrats to allow votes on bills to end sick-leave payouts, this year via Senate President Stephen Sweeney’s S1564 or Senator Joe Kyrillos’ S808. [TLS]