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Report: Gov. Christie To Talk Civil Service Reform Thursday

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New Jersey Governor Chris Christie (credit: Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie (credit: Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)

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ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. (AP) — Gov. Chris Christie will tell municipal officials Thursday that New Jersey taxpayers are feeling ill over the Legislature’s inaction on sick leave payouts and civil service rules.

Christie plans to take the Democratic-controlled Legislature to task during a keynote address in Atlantic City for not reconsidering two bills he conditionally vetoed. The Associated Press obtained excerpts of the governor’s remarks before the speech, which will be given to hundreds of local officials at the annual League of Municipalities convention.

“There’s no more time for delays and no more excuses for inaction — I know you are all tired of waiting,” Christie will say in his prepared remarks.

One bill disallows public workers to cash out large amounts of accumulated sick days at retirement. The other updates civil service rules.

Both are part of Christie’s so-called toolkit for property tax relief. The League of Municipalities supports the measures.

Christie rejected both bills, saying they aren’t strong enough. The sick leave bill had bipartisan support.

“It’s time to pass real sick pay reform to end the rampant abuse of these benefits and waste of taxpayer dollars,” Christie will say. “And it’s time to pass real civil service reform so that each of you have the tools to better manage your towns and give savings to your local taxpayers.”

The sick leave bill he sent back to the Legislature last December capped payouts at $7,500. Christie, who wants the payouts phased out entirely rather than limited, says it would cost taxpayers $3.25 billion if all 434,000 state and local employees retired with the full sick leave payment. He also says municipalities statewide are on the hook for $825 million in unused sick and vacation time. Some retiring employees have received six-figure payouts.

Christie also rejected the civil service bill for not going far enough. He said in his conditional veto, “This bill represents tepid, ineffective and meaningless change.”

He wants towns to be able to opt out of the civil service system and have the ability to furlough employees. The bill the Democrats sent him altered procedures for testing, classifying and laying off workers but did not allow towns to withdraw.

The Democratic majority in the Legislature has passed other legislation Christie identified as drivers of rising property taxes: one bill capped property tax growth at 2 percent a year; pension and health benefits bills require greater retirement and medical contributions from public workers.

New Jersey has the highest property taxes in the country, averaging more than $7,500 last year.

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