Governor Conditionally Vetoes Sick Leave Cap Legislation
Governor Chris Christie conditionally vetoed legislation A3211 / S2220 / A3392 (Casagrande / Sarlo / Lampitt / Albano) that would cap the payout for accrued unused sick leave at $15000 for those with accrued sick leave valued at less than $15000 but seeks to merely freeze compensation for accrued sick leave for those with more than $15000 at whatever they have collectively bargained for and accumulated at the end of the current collective bargaining agreement. The bill now heads back to the Legislature who can either override the conditional veto by a 2/3 vote in each house or approve the Governor’s proposed language.
The legislation in its original form and as amended seeks to extend the current restrictions on the payment of sick leave upon retirement that apply to school superintendents to all current and future school employees.
The Governor’s Conditional Veto
The Governor stated that his conditional veto seeks to “strengthen and improve upon the bill and more effectively stop the abuse of sick and vacation benefits or supplemental compensation.”
Specifically the amendatory language Governor Christie proposes would:
- Suspend supplemental compensation for any employee under indictment for a crime that involves or touches his or her public office and mandates the forfeiture of any supplemental compensation if convicted;
- Phase out the practice of distributing cash payouts for sick days by prohibiting supplemental compensation for sick days that accumulate after the effective date of the legislation or the current collective bargaining agreement for all state local government and school district employees. This would completely eliminate any payout of sick leave monies for all future employees and eliminate the payout for days accumulated in the future by current employees after the effective date of the legislation regardless of whether the amount fell below the $15000 threshold amount currently permitted by statute. Current employees would keep the value of the sick leave time they had accrued but would not be able to accrue any additional amounts after the end of the current collective bargaining agreement.
- Require that sick days accrued prior to the effective date of this legislation be used before those days accrued after the effective date;
- Expand to all current employees at any point during their employment not just hires after the effective date of the bill in the twelve months before retirement the requirement that a physician chosen by the employer provide written verification for use of six or more consecutive sick days; and
- Require that vacation days accrued prior to the effective date (those not subject to the one-year carry forward provision) of this legislation be used before those days accrued after the effective date (those subject to one-year carry forward restriction).
The Legislature had approved its version of the bill in late October (Sick Leave Cap Legislation Now In Governor’s Hands October 25 2010). The Governor conditionally vetoed the bill on the last day before the bill automatically became law under current New Jersey law.
NJPSA will continue to lobby on the bill as it returns to the Legislature for review. Our efforts during the original legislative process provided important clarifications and amendments to the bill. Read our testimony here and here.
According to Senate rules if the Governor conditionally vetoes a bill and returns it to the Senate the Senate may amend the bill in accordance with all of the Governor’s recommendations. No other or partial amendments are permitted either in committee or on the floor. The affirmative vote of at least 21 Senators is required to pass the bill as amended. Then the passed bill together with the Governor’s recommendations shall be forwarded to the General Assembly.
NJPSA will keep you updated with further information and requests for action once more information becomes available.