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Gov. Christie Demands, Sen Prez Delivers [AUDIO]

Governor Chris Christie and Senate President Steve Sweeney
Governor's Office/Tim Larsen

Governor Chris Christie wants to completely eliminate end-of-career payouts to future public workers for their unused sick time and it appears the State Senate President is ready to give him what he wants.

Well, not completely what he wants.

Under Sweeney’s measure current public employees would be allowed to keep the amount of money they’ve accrued. However, they would not be permitted to bank any more sick leave after the measure becomes law. Future hires would not be permitted to build up pay for unused sick time.

Neither Sweeney nor Christie was available for comment yesterday and no one from the Administration responded to a request for comment. The Governor has made his position crystal clear. In his December appearance on Townsquare Media’s ‘Ask the Governor’ program he told host Eric Scott, “My position is very simple and I think it’s simple for the public to understand. You shouldn’t get paid for not being sick and certainly shouldn’t be paid hundreds of thousands of dollars…….These are all people who get a taxpayer-funded pension. We’re already paying them to retire. Now we gotta pay them for this? Sorry. I’m not compromising on this.”

In December Christie also said, “Let’s just get down to it, okay? Zero should mean zero and I don’t see myself compromising on this……Everybody understands that sick leave should be when you’re sick and their argument is; Well, people may use it otherwise in a fraudulent way therefore we have to pay them not to commit fraud.”

For months, Christie has been hammering Democrats for not eliminating the payouts completely. He feels the current system is “another benefit that’s given to public sector employees that they’ve come to count on, but that we simply can no longer afford to demand from the highest burdened taxpayers in America…I thought this would be a relatively easy and uncontroversial part of the toolkit. This should be easy. It makes no sense…Let’s finish it. Let’s clear the page on this. Let’s get to the work of doing the right thing.”

In late 2010, Christie vetoed a bill to allow for a $15,000 payout cap going forward. State senate Budget Committee chairman, Paul Sarlo countered with a proposal to cap it at $7,500 but Christie wouldn’t bend.

At town hall events, the Governor refers to the payouts as “boat checks” because some retirees who worked in the public sector and banked their sick time were using the payments to buy boats.

The Governor also wants current employees to dip into their accumulated sick time when they do call in sick. That provision is not included in Sweeney’s bill.

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