Laura FLMA Op-Ed
Paid family medical leave is a concept that Republicans and Democrats in the Connecticut legislature both support, but one-sided solutions aren’t the best for Connecticut residents or for growing our state’s economy.
Here is what you should know about this new program.
In these unprecedented times, we need experienced leadership to guide us through this pandemic and help rebuild our state’s economy, by creating an environment where businesses will come and grow, creating jobs, and easing the tax burden on Connecticut residents.
Our state faced economic challenges before this pandemic that will only be exacerbated as we move ahead. We must use this opportunity to rethink how our state operates and take action to ensure our state’s government and economy are more resilient and efficient.
That’s why now more than ever we need balance in the state’s legislature. For decades we’ve experienced one-party rule in Connecticut. When one party controls everything, there is no conversation or collaboration and we get one-sided solutions that aren’t the best for growing Connecticut’s economy.
One example of this is the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA). It was passed by the Democrat majority, signed into law by Governor Lamont, and will go into effect January 1, 2021 for payroll tax deductions with benefit payouts beginning January, 2022. Paid family medical leave is a concept that Republicans and Democrats both support, but how this program is structured is a great example of one-sided solutions that get passed without compromise when one party controls everything. I do support paid family medical leave, but here is why I voted against this legislation:
- The new bill applies to businesses with two or more employees, meaning small businesses across Connecticut will have yet another business mandate with which to comply.
- Every private sector employee in Connecticut will pay a mandated 0.5% payroll tax starting January 1, 2021 to fund the program. The withholding rate will be adjusted and announced annually starting November 1, 2022. There is no opt-out, yet government employees will not have to participate and therefore do not have to pay the 0.5% tax.
- The program will be managed by the State Department of Labor – an agency that has already proven they are unable to effectively manage the unemployment claims for residents of CT.
- 100 new state employees, all with generous state benefits and also exempt from this 0.5% tax, will need to be hired to administer this program, adding a significant cost burden to CT taxpayers.
- To get the program started, the state will bond – or borrow over $13 million, and it will cost up to $18.6 million annually to run.
- The program will provide up to 12 weeks of paid leave at 100% of pay, capped at $1,000 per week. This means that a person earning $50,000 a year would contribute just $250 per year into the fund yet would be eligible to receive nearly $12,000 in benefit each year. How long do you think it will be before this fund becomes insolvent, or that the rate of 0.5% will have to be significantly increased to meet the payments?
Expanding government and raising taxes to fund a new state-run program is the wrong choice at the wrong time.
What I did support was a plan that was sustainable, affordable, and provided an incentive for businesses to provide family leave for their employees. It would have established a tax credit for employers who provided paid family and medical leave benefits, and it would have authorized the State Treasurer to establish a family and medical leave (FML) benefits account program. This was a reasonable solution that would not hurt small businesses in Connecticut but instead, would have provided an incentive to them to provide this important safety net to their employees.
I regularly hear from residents in Fairfield and Trumbull who are concerned, not only about health and safety, but about the affordability of our state. Connecticut must stop increasing state spending and increasing our taxes to pay for it. It’s always easy to keep reaching for more of other people’s money. If the state continues with one party rule in Hartford, the democratic majority will always be looking to take more of your money. There will be fewer voices to provide balance. It’s up to you, the voter, to choose candidates, like myself, that are committed to looking out for the best interests of the people of our state and bring Connecticut back.
When there is balance in the legislature, there is more dialogue and compromise which results in better policy and better solutions for all. Allow me to continue the fight to reverse this trend of out of control spending by sending me back to Hartford.
State Representative Laura Devlin 134th District