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Appropriations Committee Forwards Paid Family Leave to House

by | May 26, 2015 6:05pm () Comments | Commenting has expired | Share
Posted to: Business, Child Welfare, Labor, State Budget, State Capitol

Christine Stuart A bill to establish paid family leave narrowly passed the Appropriations Committee despite uncertainty Tuesday about the fiscal implications of the measure and two amendments still up for consideration on the House floor.

The measure was approved by a vote of 29-27.

The fiscal analysis for the bill estimated a price tag of $4.8 million in 2016 and $13.4 million in 2017 for the program, which would provide up to 12 weeks of paid family leave through a state-administered trust fund. The program would allow workers to earn income while taking time off for illness, to have a baby, or to care for sick family members.

But state Rep. Matthew Lesser, D-Middletown, told committee members there would be no net fiscal cost for the employee-funded program. Amendments, which were not taken up by the Appropriations Committee, would require any trust fund start-up money expended from the general fund to be repaid no later than June 30, 2016.

Appropriations Committee co-chairwoman Toni Walker said the leadership of the Labor Committee asked that debate on two amendments take place on the House floor instead of at the committee level.

State Sen. Rob Kane, R-Watertown, questioned the move. “I find it interesting that we, as the Appropriations Committee having to deal with fiscal notes, have an amendment that removes the fiscal note, yet we’re not going to take it up.”

Jo A. Roberts of the Legislative Commissioner’s Office said it could take up to 15 days to finalize an amendment if approved in committee, though it’s more likely that it would take about a week.

But the session ends in just eight days on June 3.

State Rep. Arthur O’Neill, R-Southbury, said he sees a lack of commitment to the idea of paid family leave at this time. Members of the committee confirmed that neither the governor’s proposed budget nor the Republican’s alternative budget included money for the program.

“I’m not sure exactly what the purpose of referring bills to the Appropriations Committee at this stage is, but certainly comparing the bill to what’s in the budget to see if there’s enough money to fund it is always at least one of the guideposts I’ve used to try to decide whether to vote yes or no on a bill,” O’Neill said.

Under the bill, workers would contribute a percentage of their weekly earnings to a Family and Medical Leave Compensation Trust Fund. In turn, should employees need to take a medical leave to care for themselves or a family member, they would receive 100 percent of their average weekly earnings up to a maximum compensation of $1,000 per week.

The bill also would reduce, from 75 to two, the minimum number of employees that makes an employer subject to FMLA in Connecticut, meaning more businesses would have to abide by it. It would also expand the definition of “family member” so workers can take leave to care for grandparents, grandchildren, and siblings.

Under current law, Connecticut’s FMLA covers workers if there are 75 or more employees at their workplace and they have worked 1,000 hours during the prior 12 months, not including vacation, holidays, or sick leave. It allows up to 16 weeks of unpaid leave per 24-month period, or 24 weeks for state employees.

Tuesday’s vote was the latest leg of a journey that gained traction with the creation of a paid family leave task force in 2013 was hailed by the Permanent Commission on the Status of Women Executive Director Carolyn Treiss.

“Today, the Appropriations Committee voted on a piece of historic legislation on paid family and medical leave, which has been gaining momentum and support amongst members of the Connecticut General Assembly, and, if passed, would be the most comprehensive in the nation. This is a huge step forward for the financial security, peace of mind and wellbeing of Connecticut’s women and families,” Treiss said in a statement.

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Comments

(11) Archived Comments

posted by: Noteworthy | May 26, 2015  7:59pm

I’m confused. I thought the state was in a fiscal crisis. Why in hell would you pass legislation, establishing a new program and not have an idea what it costs? This is the kind of decision that just makes you say bad words.

posted by: dano860 | May 26, 2015  9:27pm

Follow this link http://www.cga.ct.gov/asp/menu/hlist.asp and do a quick cross check with the link on the vote in the story.
This should answer your question Noteworthy. They are playing to their base. They need to have some feel good legislation to brag about. They hope this stuff will over shadow the tax hikes they are planning for us.

posted by: Biff Winnetka | May 26, 2015  9:41pm

More CT businesses will shut down or move as a consequence.

It’s not rocket science.

posted by: DrHunterSThompson | May 26, 2015  10:04pm

Somebody has been dipping into their stash and torching up fatties at the Capitol!  Yeehaw!  The abuse this will engender is going to be legendary!

HST

posted by: One and Done | May 27, 2015  12:36pm

Pretty soon, its going to PAY for me and my FAMILY to LEAVE this state.

posted by: Hebee | May 27, 2015  1:08pm

The scam artists are giggling and back slapping each other right now. To cheaters, this will be like taking a walk to the corner Free Money Store. My previous observation that legislators lose 25 IQ points by their second term may be way off. I should have bet the “Over”.

posted by: M_Dietrich | May 27, 2015  7:36pm

M_Dietrich

I think money would be better spent encouraging private companies through financial incentives to offer paid family leave than creating a forced disability insurance plan run by the state. I don’t see this as a win for women. I would agree that this is merely pandering.

posted by: M_Dietrich | May 28, 2015  5:18am

M_Dietrich

This bill does two things: expands FMLA by increasing the number of employers who have to comply (compliance merely means you can’t sack someone for taking a certain amount of time off for a certain family medical issue) and creating a state-run plan by which employees (-ees not -ers) contribute money for future medical leave. Although I don’t like the state-run piece, it is ridiculous to assert that this bill would cause businesses and people to leave the state.

posted by: HiQuality4All | May 28, 2015  6:10am

This bill does not tax employers or the state…it taxes every single worker in CT.  This is a new payroll tax and it is a new source of revenue for the state.  That’s why it is gaining traction at this time.

posted by: imheretohelp | May 29, 2015  9:15pm

So let me get this straight, I have 2 employees and I am supposed to let 1 of them take 6 months off and hold the job for them. Yeah and you can’t understand that this would cause businesses to consider another state, truly you have no comprehension of running a business. This should not apply to any business with less than 50 employees.

posted by: RicB | June 1, 2015  9:15pm

And this won’t pour more gas on the fire of higher taxes for every employer and employee in the state? These legislators are many cards short of a full deck. Like I really want the State of Connecticut to run a program that I may never use taking my money so every Yahoo who fakes an illness or whatever can take a vacation with everyone else’s money. OMG I can just imagine the fraud that will go on!!!

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