Washington State Family Leave Entitlement Program Quickly Becoming Boondoggle

With nothing more than good intentions the state legislature plunged ahead with a new paid “family leave” bill but now it appears taxpayers will be saddled with a mammoth new bureaucracy that has no identifiable funding source or agency to administer the program.

The family leave legislation, passed in 2007, allows Washington workers to receive up to five weeks of paid leave for the birth or adoption of a child beginning in October 2009. Rather than concern themselves with the details, legislators established a Family Leave Task Force to fill in the blanks. As a result, one year later, critical issues remain unresolved such as how to pay for the new bureaucracy. Democrats support an employee payroll tax of one-cent-per hour but even that will not come close to paying the exorbitant costs of the program.

More than 100 full-time state employees have been hired  to develop this new bureaucracy and the current price tag is said to be $113 million per biennium and rising by the minute. It is certain some type of tax willbe imposed—at the expense of people who choose not to use this program.
As a member of a task force set up to oversee the implementation of the paid family leave legislation, Sen. Janea Holmquist (R-Moses Lake) has been sounding the alarm on this disastrous entitlement program.

“It is clear to me that this new program places an unfair burden on our small businesses and farms, increases needless government bureaucracy, and simply may not be viable. The $113 million cost will far outweigh any benefit this flawed entitlement program could possibly provide for workers,” Holmquist said. “Until these issues are resolved, the Legislature should either repeal or suspend this hastily adopted program.”

Unbelievably, the State’s Employment Security Dept. has also admitted that the bill, as it’s currently written,  would allow undocumented workers to receive family leave payments. The program has no mechanism to verify citizenship and unless the legislature fixes the bill the state will write checks from the general fund to illegal immigrants.