Gov. Christie loves a good, large number that he can use to drop jaws. He trotted out a new one today at a town hall meeting in Monroe Township: $3.25 billion.
That's how much taxpayers will be forced to dish out if Assemblywoman Pamela Lampitt (D., Cherry Hill) has her way with a bill to cap the payouts for unused sick and vacation days at $7,500. Christie wants to end the practice of paying government workers for, as he says, not being sick -- and he wants to end it immediately. After Christie conditionally vetoed a similar measure that had GOP support and would have capped payouts at $15,000, Lampitt offered this bill, which she calls a compromise proposal.
But then the Christie camp got out the calculators and multiplied 434,017 (the number of state and local government employees) by $7,500. And that equals $3.25 billion, right outta your pocketbook.
This, however, assumes that all employees will work long enough and skip enough sick and vacation time to reach the cap. This also assumes that all employees can currently cash in for their time (Cherry Hill, for example, ended the practice five years ago).
On the way back from Monroe today, I spoke with Lampitt. "You can't take that sort of simplistic approach," she said. She said she thought $7,500 was a "good starting point," and a bill entirely getting rid of the payouts would never pass the Legislature.
But at the town hall, Christie mocked her number in favor of his own: "How did the number 7,500 happen? It was just plucked out of the air."