Municipal Belt-Tightening in New Jersey

A new report released by the NJ Commission of Investigation finds local governments can save tens of millions by eliminating,”wasteful and out-of-control” benefits to local government employees. Practices include: cash payouts for unused leave, bonuses and severance…and paid time off to go Christmas shopping.”Startling amounts of taxpayer-funded booty continue to be dispensed across  New Jersey without regard for the common good.”

Some of the recommendations for reform are telling:

  • Cap awards for unused leave
  • Ban cashing-in on unused leave while still employed
  • Eliminate “terminal leave” – allowing workers to collect full pay without showing up for work months before actual retirement.
  • Eliminate paid time off for shopping, weddings, and other personal business

In terms of dollars wasted, just looking at a small fraction of local governments the Commission found $39 million in excessive payouts.

Saying no to the public sector unions may be a little easier this year in light of the latest budgetary news – the state will freeze $400 million in aid to municipal governments. There’s little choice. The state’s massive budget shortfall is likely to surpass $8 billion.