Senator Jennifer Beck and Assemblywomen Mary Pat Angelini and Caroline Casagrande visited the Long Branch Senior Center on Wednesday night to discuss state-wide issues and how they affect the city as well as the rest of District 11, which includes Red Bank.
Senator Beck said that the state's proposed budget is $32.1 billion and that education will receive the largest appropriation in state history with $8.9 billion.
She said she was happy with the progress the state has made since 2009, "when New Jersey had the highest tax rate in the nation."
She said 60,600 new jobs have been created since 2010 and that the unemployment rate has declined from 9.8 percent to 9.1 percent.
Assemblywoman Angelini spoke specifically about school districts and said there will be a $2.6 million increase for District 11 school if the state budget passes. District 11 includes Long Branch, Tinton Falls, Eatontown, West Long Branch and several other Monmouth County towns, too.
Beck also addressed the issue of sick payouts. Many towns, including Long Branch, owe millions in sick payouts to town employees.
Senator Beck has introduced bills to stop this practice.
These include bills that would:
1) Prohibit the use of six or more accumulated sick days by an employee within a 12-month period after they are eligible for retirement without a doctor's note.
2) Prohibit payment of supplemental compensation for unused sick leave earned after the bill's effective date
3) Compensation for unused sick leave would be suspended if a public employee is convicted of a crime that warrants pension forfeiture under law Assemblywoman Casagrande used former Toms River School District Superintendent Michael Ritacco as an example.
4) A public employee would have to provide medical documentation for absences of six or more days. Penalties would be imposed on those who fail to provide documentation.