TRENTON, N.J. – Reducing aid to towns that pay public employees excessive sums for unused sick leave and other non-salary benefits would save billions of taxpayer dollars, says Assemblywoman Nancy Munoz. She is introducing a bill that would not only end all forms of public employee payouts, but would also punish a municipality that violated the law by cutting their state aid in an amount equal to the unlawful payments.
“What good are laws if there is no way to enforce them?” asked Munoz (R-Union). “I’m beefing up my existing bills to make sure there are clear consequences for municipalities that ignore the laws, which has allowed public employees to profit off the taxpayers. I want to put an end to the blatant waste and abuse.”
Munoz’ new legislation would expand and combine her two bills prohibiting payouts to public officers or employees for accumulated unused sick leave (A220) and banning non-salary payments from being calculated into public employee pension benefits (A221). She has been pushing for their passage for more than a decade.
According to news reports, the Department of Community Affairs’ Division of Local Government Services says it is powerless to stop municipalities that are in violation of the 2007 and 2010 laws that placed limits on when and how much local government employees may be paid for unused sick leave.
“My bill would empower the state to penalize those towns that knowingly violate the law. They must be held accountable for abusing taxpayer dollars,” added Munoz.
A recent State Comptroller report found that 57 of 60 municipalities failed to follow the 2007 and 2010 laws regarding unused sick leave payments. Eighty percent of the 60 towns that were surveyed let employees cash out their sick time when they resign or change jobs, 60% allow payments over the $15,000 cap and 48% can give employees annual payouts for their unused sick days.
“Ending sick-time payouts could save local governments possibly billions, plus billions more by ending all other non-salary payments, such as terminal leave payouts, severance and retirement payments, unused leave cash-ins, health benefit waiver payments, and longevity checks – all of which increase pension costs,” Munoz said.
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Watch Munoz raise the issue of sick-time payouts at a 2019 Assembly budget hearing: