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State Workers Taking Millions In Unused Sick Pay

BOSTON (CBS) -- State workers are cashing in on years of unused sick days and it's costing the state millions.

When Massachusetts Port Authority CEO Tom Kinton stepped down last week after 35 years at the agency, he took $450,000 in unused sick pay with him.

It's been years since Massport changed its policy of allowing workers to take 100 percent reimbursement for their unused sick time when they retire. But a court ruled they couldn't make the change retroactive. And there's no end in sight to this particular perk.

Documents provided to WBZ by Massport under the public records law show Kinton's windfall is the top of a very large iceberg.

READ: Massport's Accrued Sick Bank

Four years after Massport changed its policy more than 700 workers hired before 2007 remain eligible for more than $16 million in sick pay if and when they retire from the agency.

Mike Widmer of the business-funded Mass Taxpayers Foundation says this is a classic case of excessive public worker perks that have become unaffordable.

WBZ-TV's Jon Keller reports.

"The benefits are now off the charts in terms of their value, so it's become distorted, and it's a myth now that these benefits are justified because of low pay in the public sector," he said.

Widmer is warning that more friction is inevitable.

"We now have this big gulf between the citizens who pay taxes and the benefits of the public employees and their benefits. And I don't think that's sustainable, politically or financially," he said.

What of Massport's new policy paying less for sick time and capping the number of days workers can stockpile? Widmer says "the new policy looks restrained only in comparison to the old one."

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