in Houston, Texas
Departing Texas state workers collecting tens of millions annually as they cash out vacation time; other states look to curb practice
Thursday, Mar 15, 2012, 11:43AM CST
By Mark Lisheron

The next time you are in line at the Texas Department of Public Safety, having ordered out for pizza while moving on to the second of the Lord of the Rings trilogy on your iPhone, summon just a little empathy for the folks who are, if you are lucky, less than three hours from waiting on you.

Five hundred and six million dollars says at least some of these overworked and underloved state employees will at retirement be collecting a fat check for vacation time they were somehow not able to use, according to a story today by the Texas Tribune.

This is the total amount the state paid out to retiring state employees over the past decade, $66.5 million of it last year alone, the interactive bar graph accompanying the story says.

This policy is perfectly legal in Texas and in nearly every other state. Vacation time here can roll over from year to year to a maximum of 13 weeks pay, which can be taken as a single payment or put toward an early retirement.

But it has begun to concern your elected officials who get mightily peevish when running out of your money to spend.

Minnesota is considering ending payments to retirees for unused vacation and sick time. A $3.6 million payout to New Jersey Transit retirees last year spurred Gov. Chris Christie to call for a new policy for all state employees.

The governors of California and New York, in their efforts at pension reform, have decried the practice of adding in unused vacation and sick time to fatten the calculation of a state retiree’s pension.

Contact Mark Lisheron at 512-299-2318 or or on Twitter at @marktxwatchdog.

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Photo of beach by flickr user Vaughan, used via a Creative Commons license.

Monday, 03/19/2012 - 10:16AM

So after many years of hard service and not taking a vacation, people are furious because the employee would rather "cash out" their vacation time? This is pretty standard practice in the private world but at the same time so is implementing a ceiling in the amount of days you can carry over each year. I think there is probably a healthy compromise that could be made on both sides here.

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