JOINED BY LOCAL BUSINESS OWNERS, WORKING PARENTS, AND CHAMBERS OF COMMERCE AT PIONEER WAREHOUSING & DISTRIBUTION, KATKO ANNOUNCES BIPARTISAN LEGISLATION TO SUPPORT WORKING FAMILIES

March 9, 2016
Press Release

LIVERPOOL, NEW YORK – Standing this afternoon at Pioneer Warehousing & Distribution, LLC in Liverpool, U.S. Representative John Katko (NY-24) announced the introduction of the Working Parents Flexibility Act, bipartisan legislation that he recently introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives with U.S. Rep. Kyrsten Sinema (AZ-9) to support Central New York working families without placing a burden on businesses.  Katko was joined in announcing his legislation by many local business owners, Chambers of Commerce, and working parents.

In this economy, it has become increasingly difficult for Central New York parents to balance work and family.  By allowing men and women to contribute money, tax-free, into a Parental Savings Account, Representative Katko’s legislation addresses these difficulties.  The Working Parents Flexibility Act provides a savings vehicle for parents, empowering men and women to save for the first year of parenthood without placing a burden on small businesses or taxpayers.

“In order to support Central New York families and our local workforce, we must act to address the hardships facing new families and do more to ensure that hardworking moms and dads can afford to stay home with their newborn children,” said Congressman Katko. “But we must do so without implementing another tax or burdening small businesses with another mandate.  That’s why I’ve taken action to introduce bipartisan legislation that will allow families an individualized, flexible, affordable, and optional method to start saving for parenthood.”

Katko’s legislation provides an optional, private alternative to addressing parental leave:

  • Allows men and women and their employer, to affordably contribute pre-tax income or wages into a “Parental Savings Account.”  Funds within the account can be withdrawn, tax-free, from the account within one year of the account owner giving birth to or adopting a child to help pay for expenses associated with parenthood, such as childcare and living expenses.
  • Encourages flexibility by allowing accounts owners to contribute and invest as much or as little as he or she sees fit.  The account has no time or age constraints, in order to accommodate multiple children or starting a family later in life.
  • If left unused, funds can be rolled into a qualifying retirement, 529 College Savings Account, or 529 ABLE Account without facing tax penalties.
  • Incentivizes businesses to recruit young professionals and to partner with employees in saving for early parenthood without burdensome regulations.
  • By using compound interest, and keeping contributions tax free, account holders can see their savings grow.

Congressman Katko’s proposal works to bridge the gap and provide a compromise that Central New York employees and businesses can get behind.

At today’s event, Lisa Conway, Vice President & Owner of Pioneer Warehousing and Distribution said, “Our company’s goal is provide custom solutions to our clients while saving them time and money.  The people that make this possible are either standing behind me or working hard throughout this building.  We have a strong philosophy, and it’s simple.  Taking care of our employees is number one.  Employees are the forefront of this business and without their help, Pioneer wouldn’t be what it is today – celebrating 40 years and growing!  After reading Representative Katko’s proposal, I was overjoyed.  Not only do I run this company, but I am also a mother to three beautiful children.  I know the costs associated with being a parent to a newborn – from diapers, to clothing, to formula, to daycare.  Many parents are not adequately prepared to survive on a reduced income while meeting the additional costs of a new baby. Allowing men and women to affordably contribute their pre-tax income into a parental leave savings account is a bill that I can truly stand being with no question.  This legislation is certainly a step in the right direction for new parents and a great way for businesses to retain and incentivize our employees.”

"I care about my employees and their families and I want to help.  I know the benefits a plan like this brings to parents, children and society as a whole.  And for the first time, because of Congressman John Katko I can say I can actually be part of the solution to the problem!  I fully endorse the Congressman’s proposal,” said Mary Anne Giacona, founder and CEO of The Center in Auburn.  “It is truly a win/ win plan that gives both the employee and employer the discretion to contribute tax free dollars for parental leave without burdensome mandates to business owners and it fosters accountability, planning and flexibility without tax penalties. In my opinion it doesn’t get any better than that!" 

"I am proud to support Representative Katko in seeking legislation to provide affordable, personalized, paid parental leave without burdening businesses,” said Eileen Brophy, President of Brophy Services, Inc. “Allowing workers to save for parental leave through a pre-tax account similar to a health savings account is a great way for employees to save a little each week if they are anticipating the birth or adoption of a child. The option to then roll the account into a college savings or retirement account without tax penalties is a win, win, win for both business and employees. As a small business owner, we want to support programs for our employees. If we can do that without heavy burdens on businesses to monitor and report then that allows us to remain competitive in our market."

Stella Penizotto, Co-owner of Shining Stars Daycare, Inc. said, “I am in support of Congressman Katko's Working Parents Flexibility Act.  This is a bill that addresses the needs of parents, employees and business owners. Parents should be able to stay home with their newborn or newly adopted child in those important first crucial months without the stress of how to make ends meet. Employees need an affordable way to put money aside to help accomplish this and the bill also provides alternatives if all the funds are not used such as rolling the funds into a college or retirement fund. Employers need a program that is not burdensome to implement and sustain. This bill addresses all of this! That is why I support John Katko's bill. His bill ‘thinks outside the box!’”

Representative Katko was also joined in announcing his proposal by representatives from ASR Systems Group, Inc., City Electric Company, Inc., Bosco & Geers, Mello Velo Bicycle Shop & Café, and Central Building, LLC.

In addition to the support of many local businesses, Katko’s legislation has earned the support of the Cayuga County Chamber of Commerce as well as the Greater Oswego-Fulton Chamber of Commerce.

Andrew Fish, Executive Director of Cayuga County Chamber of Commerce said, “Workforce development and employee retention is a struggle that businesses face in all industries, particularly here in Central New York.  The Working Parents Flexibility Act offers employers the opportunity to support their employees and offer great benefits without additional and costly mandates and regulations.  This legislation strikes the often difficult balance between protecting the working family and protecting the businesses that employ them.  We are grateful that Congressman Katko developed this flexible parental leave option, reaching across the aisle, to bring forth commonsense legislation that will help secure a healthy business environment throughout our region.”

“The Greater Fulton-Oswego Chamber is proud to support Representative Katko in introducing this legislation,” stated Greater Fulton-Oswego Chamber Executive Director Greg Mills. “His proposal gives our local businesses an incentive to attract and retain young talent – and does so without imposing a harmful new tax or regulation on small businesses or employees.”   

“This fiscally responsible proposal provides hardworking families in Central New York with an affordable,  personalized way to provide for basic needs of a family during the first year of parenthood, and I’m grateful to have the support of so many in our community,” concluded Representative Katko.

Congressman John Katko represents the 24th Congressional District, which includes all of Onondaga, Cayuga, and Wayne Counties and the western portion of Oswego County.  For more information, please visit https://katko.house.gov or www.facebook.com/RepJohnKatko

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