HARTFORD – During hours-long debate on paid family and medical leave legislation, the Connecticut General Assembly Conservative Caucus proposed, on behalf of the entire Republican caucus, an alternative that would provide important medical leave coverage for families without burdening individual taxpayers with a mandatory new payroll tax.
Unfortunately, the measure was defeated on a mostly party-line vote of 84-61.
Instead, the Democrat plan for paid family and medical leave that passed the House mandates employers offer up to 12 weeks of paid leave to their employees with a maximum benefit of 60 times minimum wage, which is currently $606 per week. To fund the program, virtually all employees will be compelled to pay one-half of one per cent of their gross earnings into a new state-run fund, whether they intend to ever take the leave or not. The payout is tied to federal benchmarks so the amount paid to employees taking leave will increase automatically when those benchmarks rise.
Offered as an affordable alternative to the mandatory payroll tax plan offered by Democrats, the Conservative Caucus model would have the state’s Insurance Department develop a voluntary, free-market plan and make it available to both employees and employers. This alternative would treat paid family and medical leave as an employment benefit, not a state mandate. Instead of a mandate, employers would be empowered to offer the benefit to employees as they do other types of insurance. It would also empower employees to purchase the coverage on the individual insurance market if they found it beneficial to their particular family circumstances.
“Unlike the Democrat plan, our proposal does not mandate another payroll tax or create more government bureaucracy. Instead, it is a voluntary insurance benefit that allows employers to determine their own needs and ability to provide such benefits,” CGA Conservative Caucus Chair Rep. France said. “Instead of reaching into taxpayer wallets without their consent, our proposal empowers employers to choose to offer their employees a paid family and medical leave plan with the employer potentially paying all or part of the cost for each employee.”
Making the program an employment benefit instead of a tax on employee pay will reduce the burden on those employees who cannot or will not use the leave, and does not force Connecticut’s businesses to shoulder ever more government regulation and expense. Compelling all employees to participate would not make the program solvent. Paying one half of one percent of salary and receiving twelve weeks of paid leave per year simply does not add up.
“Putting yet another onerous tax on employees does nothing to help Connecticut’s economy and absolutely hurts low-income and middle-class workers who will be burdened with paying hundreds of dollars more in new taxes on everything from non-prescription drugs to haircuts to child car seats,” CGA Conservative Caucus Vice-Chair Rep. Fishbein said. “Connecticut is in dire fiscal shape and the Democrats’ only answer is to force ever more taxes and fees on beleaguered taxpayers. We must do better.”
The Connecticut General Assembly Conservative Caucus is a group of legislators dedicated to the principles of limited government, economic freedom and individual liberty, fostering open debate about the role of government in society, adherence to the Constitution, and the rule of law. They propose and advocate for legislation that promotes the freedoms, individual rights and prosperity of all Americans. Its members are Rep. Mike France, Chair (R-42); Rep. Craig Fishbein, Vice Chair (R-90); Rep. Anne Dauphinais, Secretary (R-44); Rep. David T. Wilson, Treasurer (R-66); Senator Rob Sampson (R-16); Rep. Tim Ackert (R-8); Rep. Brian Lanoue (R-45); Rep. Doug Dubitsky (R-47); Rep. Rick Hayes (R‑51); Rep. Kurt Vail (R-52); Rep. John Piscopo (R-76); Rep. Gale Mastrofrancesco (R-80); Rep. John Fusco (R-81); and Rep. Vincent Candelora (R-86).