When Gov. Rick Scott's jobs czar quit in January only six months after taking the position, taxpayers bestowed him a parting gift.
Doug Darling, a 15-year public employee who rarely missed a day of work, walked out as head of the Department of Economic Opportunity and cashed in his unused sick and annual leave. The payout: $64,000.
The sum is not unusual for high and mid-level state workers, many of whom roll over years of sick and annual leave, then cash it out in a lump sum when they retire, are laid off or are fired. Darling declined to be interviewed for the article.
In the budget year that ended June 30, the state paid out $51.7 million in sick and annual leave to state workers, even as it slashed funds for higher education and public school maintenance. About 28,000 employees left the state during that period.
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