Kudos to KRQE’s Matt Grubs for his investigation into sick-leave abuse at the Public Regulation Commission. He exposed two employees for taking “unusual amounts of sick leave immediately prior to quitting,” a practice that “runs counter to PRC policy, state personnel rules and state law.”
New PRC boss Valerie Espinoza wasn’t pleased, telling the reporter: “I mean, to pay somebody sick leave that’s not actually ill is a travesty. Because you’ve got to remember it’s taxpayer money we’re talking about here.”
The report is another reminder that life really is different in the world of state-government employment. The sick-leave abuse was approved by a supervisor, and it remains to be seen if the PRC will take corrective actions.
But the larger issue of unfair pay and benefits deserves attention from the state’s elected officials. In 2014, research by the American Enterprise Institute showed that the “total compensation differential” between comparable government and private-sector positions in New Mexico was 20 percent.
The Land of Enchantment’s economy is sagging, and Medicaid-driven expenses are putting the state’s treasury in further jeopardy. With the legislative session set to get underway next week, now would be a good time for lawmakers to examine how employee overcompensation contributes to fiscal stress.