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Prieto Statement on Christie’s Gutting of Bill to Expand & Improve New Jersey’s Paid Family Leave Program

Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto (D-Bergen/Hudson) weighed in Friday on Gov. Christie’s conditional veto that gutted legislation he sponsored to expand and improve New Jersey’s Paid Family leave program to help working families throughout the state.

The bill (A-4927) would have expanded leave times, provided higher compensation to those taking leave, covered more family members, improved job protections and boosted awareness of the program.

“While it’s not surprising in the least that Gov. Christie would veto a bill designed to help working families in this state, it’s still altogether disappointing.

“His gutting of the bill essentially turns it into a public awareness campaign for the existing program. Families struggling to make ends meet while taking care of a loved one don’t want to hear more talk, they want real solutions. That’s why we worked extensively with the business community and advocates to craft a bill that would make this program work better for families in this state.

“As is common, the Governor’s veto message appears more concerned with snark than facts. While we acknowledged that expanding this program would logically come with additional costs, we received the blessing of the small business community because they understand, based on the success of other programs like California’s, that the overall benefits far outweigh the costs.

“After eight years, it’s not surprising that the Governor hasn’t grasped the fact that a pro-worker state is a pro-business state.

“In the coming days, we will carefully weigh our options to determine what is best for New Jersey’s working families.”

More than 155,000 people used New Jersey’s paid family leave to take care of a new child or a sick relative in the law’s first five years, but too few knew the benefits existed or how to sign up, according to a study by Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health.

The law gives people six weeks off while collecting two-thirds of their pay, but it is capped at an amount set annually. The program is funded through employee payroll deductions of about 50 cents per week until they reach the yearly maximum contribution of $34.

Under Prieto’s bill, the funding mechanism and deduction amount would not have changed.