POU: COMPTROLLER REPORT MORE PROOF OF NEED FOR LAW CLAMPING DOWN ON AUTHORITY SPENDING

(TRENTON) – Assembly Appropriations Chairwoman Nellie Pou on Tuesday said a report by the state comptroller’s detailing wasteful New Jersey Turnpike Authority spending was further proof of the need for her bill controlling salaries and benefits at authorities.
The bill (A-2505) was approved 77-0 by the Assembly in June.
It was referred to a Senate committee but hasn’t received action.
“These are common sense reforms that will protect taxpayers from the type of abuses detailed by the comptroller’s office,” said Pou (D-Passaic/Bergen). “Taxpayers have had it with wasteful spending like this, and with this bill we can put an end to it. It’s time to make this law before more money is wasted.”
The comptroller found the New Jersey Turnpike Authority wasted millions of dollars on unnecessary perks, unjustified employee bonuses and inappropriate sick leave payouts
Pou’s legislation requires the chairman of an authority to annually certify – to the Local Finance Board for a local authority or to the state treasurer for an independent state authority – that the salaries and benefits of its officers, employees and members don’t exceed these limits:
· No new executive director of an authority shall have a salary higher than the governor without the approval of the Local Finance Board or the state treasurer, as the case may be;
· No new officer, employee or member of an authority shall have a salary higher than the salary of a Cabinet officer without the approval of the Local Finance Board or the state treasurer, as the case may be;
· Payments by an authority for accumulated unused sick leave, for new officers and employees, shall not exceed $15,000 and shall be paid only at the time of retirement;
· Officers and employees of an authority shall have the same paid holidays – 12 in number – as full-time state employees, when current collective bargaining agreements expire;
· Officers and employees of an authority shall contribute a minimum of 1.5 percent of base salary for the cost of health care benefits coverage provided by the authority, and new officers and employees shall contribute in retirement a minimum of 1.5 percent of the monthly retirement allowance for health care benefits coverage; and
· An authority shall prohibit the use of six or more consecutive days of accumulated sick leave by any new officer or employee in the year prior to that officer or employee’s retirement without a medical necessity verified in writing by a physician. The bill provides for penalties to be imposed on those who violate this prohibition.
“We’ve seen too many cases of authorities acting without accountability,” Pou said. “It’s long past time for that to stop. I commend the comptroller for his report and I hope it lends more momentum to our efforts to make this legislation law to benefit taxpayers. It must get done.”