Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Casagrande Introduces Sick Time and Vacation Reforms

By Assemblywoman Caroline Casagrande, R-Monmouth and Mercer, 12th Legislative District

Nearly every day we learn of another public official cashing out an exorbitant amount of unused sick or vacation time at retirement: $132,223 for the Freehold Regional schools superintendent, $153,790 for the Keansburg police chief, and of course, the infamous $741,000 retirement package to the Keansburg schools superintendent, which included $184,000 for unused time.

It’s not just retired public employees who take advantage. From 2008 to 2010, three firefighters in Camden collectively used 553.5 sick days and half the department called out sick 31 or more times in that span.

Overusing sick days drains resources and needlessly increases overtime. Large unpredictable payouts create havoc on budgets and drain funds from worthwhile services. Both scenarios are wrong and unfair to taxpayers.

That’s why I sponsor legislation, which is part of Governor Christie’s plan to reduce property taxes, to limit payouts for unused time at retirement to $15,000 and require medical documentation when public employees miss more than a week of work the year before retirement.

These rules are already in place for state workers and new public employees. My bill, A-2952, would immediately remove a grandfather provision for current workers who have been amassing unused time for many years.

Public employees argue this would take away something they’ve been promised. It does not. Workers have been promised an honest day’s pay for an honest day’s work, and more importantly, taxpayers have been repeatedly promised an efficient affordable government.

This proposal, part of Governor Christie’s toolkit to reform government and reduce property taxes, is a step toward finally fulfilling that promise without being unfair to public employees. It should be enacted immediately.


Anonymous said...

Unfortunately, this was promised, ended, but with a grandfather clause which allowed this lunacy to continue for some.

However, more importantly, all public workers, including paid police and firefighters, must pay more into their lucrative pensions.

Currently teachers in the TPAF and other public employees in the PERS pay only 5.5% of their base pay for a lifetime defined benefit pension.

Police and firefighters in the PFRS pay a little more, 8.5% of their base pay into what is definitely a more lucrative lifetime pension benefit.

I suggest raising these contributions to at least 11% (TPAF, PERS) and 15% (PFRS); this will help strengthen the pension funds, while requiring less of a contribution by the employer (taxpayers).

Health benefits need to be cost shared based upon a percentage of the actual cost of the provided benefits (15% - 20%), not based on a very small percentage of salary.

PFRS member said...

I love when the uninformed jump on the current bandwagon. Increasing employee contributions to pensions will not lessen the burden on towns. Increasing the contribution rate will, in fact, cost the towns more because how much the town puts in is based on how much the employee puts in.

Anonymous said...

PFRS - If you double what the employee puts in, you reduce the amount the taxpayers must put in to fully fund the system.


Perhaps we should go to a countywide police force and eliminate all the local departments and all their chiefs.

Anonymous said...

Amen, Anonymous @ 8:19PM. We also need to lay off a lot of cops here in Monmouth County (e.g., you could lay off 75% of the cops in Fair Haven & Rumson with little or no discernable impact). In addition, we need to reform our laws so that cops and/or former cops (e.g., Assemblyman Rible) don't collect disability pension when they are anything but permanently disabled.

JustifiedRight.com said...

Kick ass, Caroline!

Been wating for someone to do this for a long time.

In every job I've ever had in the private sector the sick and vacation time was "use it or lose it" every 12 months.

No need to treat public employees any different.

Anonymous said...

Monmouth County employees and the State employees have been under these guidelines for many years . It is only fair and makes sense that the local goverments follow the same guidelines.