Rep. Kokoruda Comments on Paid Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA)

Posted on June 4, 2019 by admin


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There were two proposals put before the legislature this session that pertained to Paid Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). The option that I supported was not a mandated payroll tax and did not require additional state employees. I believe that Paid FMLA is a worthy program, but I also believe that it should be a private choice and not a mandate instated by government.

Over the course of my nine years serving as a legislator, I have introduced at least four bills that proposed Paid FMLA programs because I believe that Paid FMLA is a major issue for our parents and families. With each proposal I tried to help families deal with health issues, childbirth, and other family catastrophes with paid time off from work with assurances of no job loss. There were two things that all my proposals  had in common, they were administered by  private or not-for-profit organizations as opposed to government and they were optional as opposed to a mandate.

On Friday, May 31st I voted against legislation that would increase the money deducted out of the paychecks of Connecticut residents in an attempt to provide Paid FMLA coverage to workers statewide. The legislation – SB 1, An Act Concerning Paid Family and Medical Leave – mandates a one-half of one percent payroll tax on nearly every person in the state to be placed into a fund for distribution for approved medical leave. To allow the fund time to accumulate enough of a balance to run the program, money will not be available for disbursement until after the first year.

Proponents of this legislation claim that the payroll tax will generate enough money from workers to fully fund each covered employees’ leave. But in my opinion, this is another example of government overreach and will quickly fail under the pressure of providing such lavish benefits for so little employee investment. Simply put, I could not support a version of Paid FMLA that is mandated, unsustainable, and requires the state to hire approximately 135 new state employees with hefty pensions and health benefits just to get started. This payroll tax would be mandated on everyone with one exception – thousands of union state employees – state government once again picks winners and losers.

The version of Paid FMLA that I did support would task the state’s Insurance Department to develop a voluntary free-market plan, similar to an insurance product, and make it available to both employees and employers. It would allow workers to qualify for paid family and medical leave while treating such leave as an employment benefit, and was not a state mandated payroll tax. Under this plan, employers would be able to offer the benefit to employees as they do other types of insurance and it would further empower employees to purchase such coverage if they found it beneficial to their family circumstances. The amendment failed on a party-line vote of 84-61.