WA Paid Family Leave Program Going Broke? Legislators Demand Answers
Legislators are now trying to figure out why the Employment Security Department says the Paid Family and Medical Leave program (PFML) is almost broke.
ESD OFFICIALS SAY IT WILL HAVE A DEFICIT BY LATE MARCH OR EARLY APRIL
The plan stirred up much controversy when legislators proposed and passed it in 2017. The PFML allows a worker to take up to 12 weeks of paid time off to care for a sick family member, a newborn child, or other qualified medical-family issues.
“This agency has been plagued by one failure after another and this is another example of some pretty disappointing mismanagement
According to ESD during a Tuesday, January 25th conference meeting PFML had $78.7 million in it's coffers, officials say it paid out about $90 million in November 2021 and a little less in December. The bulk of the payments went to families to care for a new child, or deal with a serious health condition. About 365,000 people have utilized the program.
NOW THE PLAN HEADED FOR THE RED
Democratic legislators are blaming the COVID Pandemic for increased payouts, some of it for what are called "COVID baby booms." GOP Legislators point to mismanagement by the ESD, especially on the heels of the unemployment scam that cost the state hundreds of millions (if not over a billion) dollars.
Senator Lynda Wilson (R-Vancouver) said it was "disappointing" that the legislature and the state did not anticipate the possibility of this happening.
Senator Ron Muzzall (R-Oak Harbor) had this to say about ESD's handling of the PFML:
“This agency has been plagued by one failure after another and this is another example of some pretty disappointing mismanagement. I’m wondering when Washingtonians will be able to actually count on these costly programs, There is a serious need for the Legislature to impose some strict accountability going forward.”
He and other GOP legislators are demanding steps be put in place to better account for how ESD administers not only the PFML but unemployment as well.
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