AUSTIN, Texas — A review finds Texas agencies since 2014 have granted at least $430,000 in emergency leave to employees who already left their jobs.
Details were released Thursday by the State Auditor’s Office, The Dallas Morning News (http://bit.ly/2cOCFOG ) reports. The audit was put together at the request of the House Committee on General Investigating and Ethics.
Severance pay is not allowed in Texas government. State law gives the heads of agencies unrestricted authority to give emergency leave for any reason and however long they choose.
Seven agencies were asked to detail packages they offered to Texas employees since September 2014. Committee members asked the state to provide information on the agencies because they had been the subject of recent media reports. The auditor’s office said it didn’t verify the information provided by the agencies.
The newspaper reported that the review’s results are similar to finding from the newspaper’s analysis conducted in May.
Six agencies reported paying ex-employees emergency leave for weeks and sometimes months after they left. Auditors found that more than $432,000 in taxpayer money was paid to 44 ex-employees. The money was paid out by the Teachers Retirement System and Office of the Attorney General.
According to the report, one former assistant attorney general had the single largest payout, netting 456 hours of emergency leave plus a lump sum payment of $99,000 for a severance arrangement totaling more than $116,000. The report also said the attorney general’s office gave emergency leave to the highest number of ex-staffers, with 27 people getting more than 3,200 of paid leave in the last two years.
Some Texas legislators have criticized giving ex-state workers emergency leave pay in place of severance pay or as settlements.
Gov. Greg Abbott and Comptroller Glenn Hegar asked state agencies to stop giving out money for emergency leave soon after news broke that dozens of agencies may be misusing their discretion.
Information from: The Dallas Morning News, http://www.dallasnews.com