Wednesday’s State Commission of Investigation report indicating the substantial expense incurred by taxpayers by providing government-paid leave for public union employees is another reminder of the need to reform a costly expense that should not be borne by taxpayers, said Republican Assemblywomen Nancy F. Muñoz and Alison Littell McHose today.

The assemblywomen pointed out that while the report estimated the cost to taxpayers at $30 million in salaries and medical benefits from 2006 through 2011, the issue of these employees’ participation in the state pension plans is another aspect of this practice that needs fixing.

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Muñoz and McHose are sponsors of A-2438 which bars certain employees of specified public agencies from participating in the Public Employee Retirement System (PERS). It also repeals the law permitting PERS and Teachers’ Pension and Annuity Fund (TPAF) members on leave who work for labor organization to purchase pension credits.

  “Historic pension reform was enacted last year, but we can still make progress in the effort to correct another aspect regarding public employees on paid leave which also costs taxpayers,” said Muñoz, R-Union, Morris and Somerset. “The SCI report was an eye-opener. The bottom line is that comprehensive reform is needed on the inconsistent practice of granting paid leaves, which also includes whether these employees should still be participating in a state pension plan. This aspect can be addressed immediately by A-2438.”

“Until reports like this are issued, taxpayers are not aware of what they are paying for,” said McHose. “When someone calls attention to a flaw that costs millions in taxpayer dollars, the answer is to fix the problem, not attack the motive of the report.

“As I stated two years ago, ‘The SCI’s investigations often target wasteful and abusive governmental practices and, uniquely, the SCI makes its results public even if there is no criminal prosecution.’” continued McHose. “Hearing that ‘some union officials have been on paid leave for years or even decades’ is outrageous enough, but what makes it worse is that SCI said they found no evidence that these officials on full-time paid leave are paying both the employee and employer contributions to the pension fund, as required by law. While the spoils go to these public employees, taxpayers continue to foot the bill.”