State employees and their families are the big losers in a fight over Governor Keating's first veto of the legislative session, according to the Senate author of SB 323. The Governor vetoed that bill earlier this month and Senate Republicans successfully voted to sustain the veto on Wednesday.
"The Governor who vetoed this bill and the people who voted to sustain that veto turned their backs on state employees and their families. We were trying to extend a helping hand to them in their time of need, but the Governor and his supporters slapped it away," said Senator Paul Muegge.
The legislation would have allowed departing state employees to donate their remaining annual or sick leave to qualified employees under the state's leaving sharing program. The program currently allows only active state employees to donate leave time to eligible employees.
To be eligible to receive donated leave, an employee must have exhausted his/her leave time and be suffering or have a family member suffering from a severe illness or injury which could cause the employee to take unpaid leave or quit their job.
According to Sen. Muegge, expanding such a program to include departing state employees would have provided much-needed assistance to a number of their colleagues.
"I think we should do everything we can to help state employees and their families in their time of need. This was a small but effective gesture. I really don't understand why anyone could be against it, especially considering how little we do for our state workers," said Sen. Muegge.
In his veto message, Governor Keating claimed SB 323 would create "a potential for abuses by persons leaving state service." Sen. Muegge disagreed, pointing out that leave time could only be donated if a need existed at the time an employee was leaving state service.
"I don't see any room for 'abuse,' but I do see an opportunity to assist people who need help. He may disagree, but I just don't think there was any valid reason for Governor Keating to veto this legislation. His veto is going to hurt a lot of state employees and their families," said Sen. Muegge.
The Governor vetoed similar legislation last session.