ABC News - WPVI (Philadelphia)

Gov. Corzine Signs The Family Leave Act

ABC Action News / WPVI (Philadelphia) — Friday, May 2, 2008

By Nora Muchanic

ABC News Video Clip

See the video broadcast at ABC Action News / WPVI.

TRENTON, N.J. — The state of New Jersey today became the third state in the country to sign off on paid family leave, and officials think that 38,000 Garden State residents will take advantage of it every year.

Governor John Corzine happily signed the Family Leave Act calling it historic legislation and a true commitment to family values.

The act will allow workers to take up to 6 weeks paid leave to care for a sick relative, a newborn or an adopted child.

The legislation comes too late for Marie Tane of Monroe, who 3 years ago had to choose between a paycheck and spending time with her dying husband.

"I had to go to work in order to keep the medical benefits in order to pay the mortgage when my husband was dying of cancer. I would have loved to have been home with him, spend more quality time with him," Marie said.

The program will be paid for by employees through a payroll deduction of about 64 cents a week. Workers can receive two-thirds of their pay, up to $524 a week.

Democrats and organized labor have been pushing for this; Republicans and business strongly oppose it saying it's another tax and will harm employers.

"Where it's existing in California, the world didn't come to an end, people didn't lose their businesses. This is a compassion bill," bill sponsor Senator Steve Sweeney (D) said.

Lauren Agoratus of Hamilton Township wishes she had this financial safety net years ago. After her daughter was born with a kidney ailment she lost her salary when she took off from work and went $20,000 into debt.

"It was so scary not knowing if we were even going to have a home," Lauren said.

It's been a 12 year battle to pass Family Leave Bill in New Jersey. The Governor says it will make a real difference in people's lives.

"We're taking an incredible step to ease some of the pressure that people in New Jersey and across this country face," Governor Corzine said.

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