Some activists are begging Oregon’s legislature to create yet another social safety net: paid family leave. Senate Bill 966 would create “insurance” benefits for family leave, subsidizing time off from work to care for a new child or a seriously ill family member. It would cost each full-time worker about $42 each year. After working six months, a worker could receive up to $300 per week for six weeks while on family leave.
To pay for a worker to take the maximum amount of leave benefits, about 42 full-time workers would have to work more than a year. Since this program would change behavior, it is likely that the tax would not be big enough to support the program-especially when you consider that a minimum-wage worker would sacrifice only $36 per week by staying home instead of working.
If paid family leave is something people want, it should be optional and have incentives for responsible behavior built into the program. Instead of collecting and redistributing more hard-earned wages, why not encourage individuals to save for emergencies through tax-sheltered savings accounts and other incentive-based programs? Why not take an existing welfare program and use some of the funding to create rainy-day savings for low-income families?
Public policies should promote responsibility and personal savings, not government dependence. This bill does the opposite and encourages dependence on the system instead of prudent planning for the future.