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Governor Vetoes Bill Because It Would Give Disability Benefits To Officers

Despite overwhelming bipartisan support, Gov. Newsom vetoed a bill that would have extended disability coverage to SROs.

Sacramento, CA – As one of his last actions of the 2019 legislative session, California Governor Gavin Newsom vetoed a bill on Sunday that would have extended temporary disability coverage to school resource officers.

California Assembly Bill 346 was passed unanimously by the state assembly and state senate and would have given police officers who work in the school a paid leave of absence if they were disabled on the job, according to Business Insurance.

The current law extends disability coverage to certain peace officers, firefighters, and other specified state and local public employees, but not school resource officers.

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Under AB 346, school resource officers would also be entitled to a leave of absence, without loss of salary, in lieu of temporary disability payments if they are disabled by injury or illness as a result of doing their jobs.

Labor unions and law enforcement groups supported AB 346 and argued that school resource officers put themselves in harm’s way when they respond to school shootings and other gun violence situations on campuses, WorkersCompensation.com reported.

Supporters said that school resource officers should be entitled to the same wage protection as firefighters and other public employees who work in the schools.

But on Oct. 13, despite overwhelming bipartisan support, California’s governor quietly vetoed AB 346.

“While I appreciate the Legislature’s intent, and do not take lightly the important public service provided by police officers in educational settings, this bill would significantly expand 4850 benefits that can be negotiated locally through the collective bargaining process,” Newsome wrote in his explanation when he returned the bill to the state assembly unsigned.

“Many local school districts face financial stress, and the addition of a well-intentioned but costly benefit should be left to local entities that are struggling to balance their priorities,” the governor wrote.

His missive acknowledged that “local entities,” such as law enforcement agencies are struggling but refused to make the school resource officers protecting the state’s students a financial priority.

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Newsom’s veto had the support of the Association of California School Administrators, cities and counties, and the California Coalition on Workers’ Compensation, according to WorkersCompensation.com.

Those groups complained about the cost of extending the disability coverage to school resource officers.

“Local agencies typically fund workers’ compensation costs out of their general fund, and every dollar spent on special enhanced benefits must come from somewhere,” they argued, WorkersCompensation.com reported.

Sandy Malone - October Thu, 2019

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