It doesn’t look good — lawmakers pile up unclaimed sick days. A Milwaukee Journal Sentinel review finds state lawmakers have accumulated a lot of unused sick days. Legislators can accumulate hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of unused sick days which they can then apply towards health insurance premiums once they’ve retired, explains Jay Heck with Common Cause in Wisconsin. “That’s just an incredible amount of taxpayers’ money” says Heck.
In fact the newspaper reported that one lawmaker — Madison Democrat Fred Risser — had more than $160,000 in accumulated sick leave benefits. Another Senate veteran, Neenah Republican Mike Ellis, admitted the practice doesn’t pass “the smell test,” and needs reform. Lawmakers should get ten sick days annually, just like other state employees, says Ellis. “If they don’t use the sick leave in any given calendar year, they should simply lose it,” Ellis says. Ellis has accumulated the third highest amount of sick leave benefit — 104-thousand dollars. Like most of the lawmakers contacted by the Journal Sentinel, he said he was unaware of the benefit.