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Let’s hope last week’s decision by the Massachusetts Port Authority board of directors to rein in pay for unused sick time will be the catalyst for a similar change for all state and local unions.

Massport employees will receive 100 percent of the cash value of the unused sick days, but as of Jan. 1, they will get only 20 percent of the cash value of any subsequent sick days accrued. The change brings Massport into line with policies observed by other state agencies.

We would have preferred the Massport board follow Gov. Mitt Romney’s recommendation that would have made the change retroactive, taking away the higher benefit. Board members instead chose a compromise position.

The change comes after reports earlier this fall that Massport Executive Director Thomas J. Kinton Jr. had accrued $428,000 in unused sick days.

The sums are outrageous and are in addition to state pensions due to the employees upon their retirement.

Taxpayers simply cannot afford to fund this kind of government waste. Many residents are struggling to make ends meet, living paycheck to paycheck, while Massport workers are sitting pretty with retirements that will bring fat pension checks and sweetheart sick-time buyback deals.

Romney was right to curb this abusive program. Had the board fully supported Romney’s proposal, it would have saved considerably more money. Kinton, for example, would have received a payout of $86,000 instead of $428,000 — still a significant chunk of change, but a little more palatable to taxpayers.

The next step is for the state and municipalities to get rid of costly sick-time buyback deals for all public-sector employees.