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New Jersey Business & Industry Association President & CEO Michele Siekerka issued the following statement Wednesday about legislation on the Governor’s desk that would change the existing Paid Family Leave law to increase benefits, expand eligibility to more workers, and double the length of a paid leave to 12 weeks.

“Increasing the cost of the paid family leave program without adjustments to the payroll tax that pays for it all means the fund will soon be depleted as more employees qualify to take a longer leave and receive increased benefit checks.

“In fact, the nonpartisan Office of Legislative Services’ fiscal analysis determined the state’s existing paid family leave program, which cost $88.7 million in 2016, would have cost $236 million if the proposed changes had been in effect last year—a $147.3 million increase. If this bill to significantly expand the program becomes law, there’s no doubt the Legislature will next look to increase employer payroll taxes to keep the fund from going broke.

“Doubling the length of time that an employee can be away from work from six weeks to 12 weeks would be extremely disruptive to a small business’ operations. Moreover, the legislation also lowers the exemption threshold from 50 to 20 employees, meaning more small businesses will be negatively impacted.

“NJBIA urges the governor to protect small businesses, which are the engine that drives the state’s economy, by vetoing this bill that would only make it more expensive and less attractive to do business in New Jersey.”