by Betsy McCaughey | April 13, 2016 12:02 am
If you’re employed, beware. An alarming attitude is sweeping the nation that your paycheck is fair game to fix any social problem. Left-wing legislators across the nation are mandating deductions from everyone’s paycheck to fund paid family medical leave programs. The programs are used mostly by women to stay home with their newborns. Sounds warm and fuzzy, but looting your paycheck to fund it amounts to legal plunder. The left is using the law to take what you’ve earned and give the money to someone else.
New York State lawmakers are savoring their 15 minutes of fame for passing the most “progressive” paid family leave law in the nation. “Reckless” is a more like it. The law empowers the state to deduct funds from every worker’s paycheck to keep the new family leave program afloat. How big a payroll deduction? The law doesn’t say. Each year, state officials will decide on a percentage deduction, and New Yorkers will see their paychecks shrink based on that decision.
Descending to a new low in shoddy governance, New York lawmakers didn’t crunch the numbers on the cost before voting to stick workers with the tab. Governor Andrew Cuomo guesses it will cost the average employee “roughly 70 cents a week the first year, and $1.40 a week by 2021.” Experts say it could cost five times that much.
Albany lawmakers had their heads in a cloud. Jeffrey Klein, Democratic state senator, predicts “nobody will ever again have to choose between what their heart tells them to do and what their bank account allows them to do.” That’s a liberal daydream.
In fact, more employees lose than win under this law. Over three quarters of private sector jobs already provide for paid leave, according to the National Federation of Independent Business. If you’re a New Yorker with one of those jobs, you’re still going to have your paycheck shaved each week.
Until this month, only three states had paid family medical leave programs — California, New Jersey and Rhode Island — and payroll deductions there have sparked limited resistance. But New Yorkers are expected to be bigger users of the program, jacking up costs and necessitating bigger payroll deductions than in these other states, explains Aparna Mathur of the American Enterprise Institute.
The New York program is phased in gradually, but by 2021 it will pay 67 percent of your wage (or the state’s average wage, whichever is less) for up to 12 weeks of leave, twice as long as New Jersey’s paid leave.
The new law caters to the lowest-income workers. They’ll pay the least into the system and collect benefits valued at many times what they’ve paid in. In fact, an unusual provision of the law would enable part-time minimum wage workers to collect 100 percent of wages when on leave.
People who earn over $67,000 a year — the state average — get whacked. They pay a percentage of every dollar they earn — there is no cap on the payroll deduction — but their benefits are limited to what the average earner in the state can collect.
Governor Andrew Cuomo stretches the truth when he claims that the new law won’t cost employers a penny. The $10 million in seed money for the program is skimmed off the state’s workers’ compensation fund, paid into by employers.
The NFIB predicts that mom and pop businesses with a just a few employees will be hit hardest by the requirement to give a worker 12 weeks leave — and a guarantee of their old job back. Who gets the job done in the meantime?
Despite these concerns, advocates across the nation are demanding paid family leave legislation. In Connecticut, activists are calling for 100 percent paid leave, though they have no clue what that would cost.
Why not more payroll deductions for free college or other freebies? It won’t end until the people earning the paychecks fight back.
Betsy McCaughey is a senior fellow at the London Center for Policy Research and author of “Government by Choice: Inventing the United States Constitution.”
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