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Family leave: Numbers still don't add up

April 16. 2018 6:27PM

Gov. Chris Sununu is much more optimistic about the viability of a state family and medical leave system than we are.

But he’s right to oppose the version coming out of the New Hampshire House.

Sununu penned a letter to the Senate Finance Committee outlining his objections to House Bill 628, which he says he would veto should it reach his desk in its present form.

HB 628 would impose a small income tax on employee wages, which would fund six weeks of family leave benefits if a worker needed to take time off to care for themselves or a sick relative. But the numbers have never worked.

The original bill would have been insolvent from the start, so the House increased the tax and cut back the benefits. But even this smaller, more expensive program would be insolvent once employees learned to game the system.

Sununu points out that the so-called voluntary program would only allow participating businesses to opt-out once per year. He favors an amendment crafted by Rep. Lynne Ober to convert the program to a privately-run, short-term disability program. The House rejected Ober’s amendment, sending HB 628 to the Senate.

We think the market is better equipped to set employee benefits than well-meaning politicians playing with other people’s money. Ober’s proposal is unnecessary, but still an improvement over the bill adopted by the House.

Should the Senate pass HB 628 as it is, Sununu would be right to veto it.

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