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July 07, 2001
Paid Family Leave Eyed In Mass.
Mas
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sachusetts Acting Governor Jane Swift is seeking a way to provide paid family leave for all workers in her state.

But her options, according to the Boston Globe, are limited by her no-new-taxes pledge and a slowing economy.

Swift, who is on a working maternity leave, pondered the situation while spending the July Fourth holiday on Cape Cod with her family.

But her aides spent the latter half of their holiday week denying a report in the Boston Herald that she is considering imposing a new tax on workers and businesses to pay for the family-leave program.

"There is no intention of raising taxes to pay for a maternity leave program for employees. It is simply not an option," the Globe quoted Swift spokesman Jason Kauppi as saying.

Sources close to the administration said the situation illustrates just how difficult funding universal family leave will be.

Anti-tax crusader Barbara Anderson, of Citizens for Limited Taxation, reasoned that if tax increases are out, then so is any sort of state requirement that employers or employees purchase mandatory temporary disability insurance that would cover maternity and paternity leaves.

"A mandatory anything is a tax, no matter where it goes to," Anderson said.

Such a requirement, she told the Globe, would also be counter-productive; it would mean more paperwork for small business owners, who in turn might be tempted to cut their workforces rather than deal with an additional headache.

During a brief public appearance yesterday at Cape Cod Community College in West Barnstable, Swift said she would not adopt any plan that would end up eliminating "the very jobs that people want to take maternity leaves from."

Instead, administration sources said the ideas receiving serious consideration include:

  • A maternity "student loan" program that would allow workers to borrow the money to cover a maternity or paternity leave and then pay it back over a long period of time at a low interest rate.

  • A parental leave "savings account" that expectant parents would pay into, with the state throwing in incentives such as making it tax-free.

  • A more traditional tax credit for workers who take parental leave that would allow them to recoup up to 50 percent of their lost salary.


Sources close to Swift told the Globe that she has not dismissed House Speaker Thomas M. Finneran's proposal for a 20 percent tax credit to companies offering paid family leave. But she said Tuesday that she does not believe it would significantly increase the number of businesses offering leave to workers.

To view the Boston Globe story, click here.
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