ALBANY, N.Y., March 1, 2016 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- AARP today endorsed Governor Andrew Cuomo's proposal to create a paid family leave law that would be stronger than any already on the books to help New York's family caregivers, and the Governor is planning to speak directly to AARP members from across the state during a teletown hall this evening to urge them to help get the job done.
Today's endorsement came as more than 100 AARP members and volunteers from around the state met with their state legislators individually at the capital and urged them to approve the plan as part of the 2016-17 state budget. AARP members and volunteers joined AARP New York State Director Beth Finkel on the state Capitol's Million Dollar Staircase for the announcement.
The teletown hall will begin at 5:20 p.m. In addition to being able to ask the Governor questions directly, participants will have the opportunity to contact their State Senator urging support of the Governor's proposal.
The Governor's plan would provide up to 12 weeks per year of paid leave for working New Yorkers to care for newborn children and working family caregivers to care for sick family members. It would be financed entirely through employee contributions starting at approximately 70 cents per week and rising to approximately $1.40 when full benefits kick in.
Employees would ultimately receive two thirds of their weekly pay while on leave, up to a maximum of two thirds the state's average wage. The two thirds wage replacement cap will particularly help lower-income workers.
"No New Yorker should be forced to choose between paying their bills and caring for a sick loved one," said Governor Cuomo. "We are going to pass paid family leave in this state and ensure fairness and dignity for all households. It's time that we set a new national standard for supporting working families, and New York is going to lead the way."
"AARP applauds Governor Cuomo for his leadership on paid family leave," said AARP CEO Jo Ann Jenkins. "Helping caregivers to assist their loved ones is a common-sense approach that results in more people being able to live independently in their home, rather than having to move into a more costly, and often taxpayer-funded institutional setting."
"AARP New York is proud that our Governor is fighting for a paid family leave benefit that would be stronger than any other on the books, and we enthusiastically support his plan and urge our legislators to adopt it as part of the new state budget," said Beth Finkel, State Director of AARP in New York State, home to 2.6 million of AARP's 38 million members nationally. "Working family caregivers shouldn't have to choose between making a living and caring for mom or dad or their spouse. Paid family leave would ensure they don't.
"AARP appreciates Governor Cuomo's willingness to speak to our members on tonight's teletown hall," Finkel added. "Our population is aging, and family caregivers will only become more and more stressed as time goes on. New York has over two million family caregivers who provide unpaid care valued at $31.3 billion a year. They are a resource we should support."
"Many people need this," said AARP volunteer Toni Salomone, 72, of Islip Terrace, whose daughter had to take four weeks off unpaid from her job as a teacher two years ago to be with her father, Toni's husband. "I really needed her support at the time. It was so difficult financially."
"Paid Family Leave would have really benefitted me," said Richard McGee, 64, an AARP volunteer from Garden City who has been caring for his 95-year-old mother. "Sometimes I received calls in the middle of the night, but I was at a job where I couldn't miss days." He's between jobs now but said paid family leave would help at his next job.
As New York's population ages, there will be fewer family members available to provide care for more aging adults who will need it. In 2010 there was a potential pool of 6.6 people aged 45-65 for every person 80 and older who would likely need care at some point. That number will shrink to 4.8 by 2030 and 3.5 by 2050.
The United States is one of the only developed nations in the world that does not provide paid family leave. California, New Jersey and Rhode Island are the only states that currently offer paid family leave..
An AARP-commissioned survey of voters 50 and older across New York state in 2014 found 73 percent support paid family leave. More recently, a Sienna Research Institute poll published on February 1, 2016 found that 80 percent of New Yorkers support paid family leave.
SOURCE AARP New York