Sweeney: Tax Cut Proves Paid Family Leave Working As Planned

TRENTON — Senate President Stephen M. Sweeney today said the announcement that the paid family leave contribution rates will be cut in half given the fund’s current health proves that the system has worked as planned and has not been the victim of waste and abuse as opponents feared.

But Sweeney criticized officials at the state Department of Labor and Workforce Development for claiming that the decrease was their decision. In reality, the cut is due to a law Sweeney sponsored — signed by former Governor Corzine in early 2010 — that ties employee contributions to the health of the fund. Since the fund is currently running a surplus, the law automatically cut the contribution rate.

“This tax cut is a direct result of the Paid Family Leave law working exactly as planned, not the goodwill of some Trenton bureaucrat,”said Sweeney. “When Paid Family Leave was first enacted, opponents said it was going to have apocalyptic impacts on New Jersey. But facts are stubborn things. And the facts show that the law is working as planned and is providing a much-needed safety net for families who truly need it.”

Sweeney noted that because of last week’s overwhelming victory of a state constitutional amendment he sponsored to prohibit officials from raiding trust funds paid into by employees, the fund’s surplus is safe from the hands of lawmakers who would otherwise seek to grab it to plug holes in the state budget.

In the coming year, the maximum amount to be deducted from employee paychecks for the Paid Family Leave Fund will be cut from $35 to $17.

“In one week, New Jersey’s workers have won two tremendous victories,” said Sweeney. “First, they voted to keep the Governor’s and Legislature’s hands out of the cookie jar. Now, they will get a little extra back in every paycheck. Perhaps New Jersey’s working families deserve a little more credit than the opponents of this law were willing to give them.”

Only three Republican legislators voted for Sweeney’s law — Senators Bill Baroni, Sean Kean and Bob Singer.

The employee contribution decrease is expected to save workers $57 million in 2011.