Paid family leave is not a priority

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Legal protections for those needing family leave to be with a newborn or care for a sick family member have already been enacted by Congress.

This is not a pressing issue for the Washington state Legislature, which is — or, at least, should be — dealing with bridging a $1 billion gap between spending and revenue and coming up with $1 billion for basic education. And that’s just the top of the list.

Yet, state lawmakers in 2007 approved five weeks of paid leave funded by the state. But there hasn’t been any money to actually fund the leave program.

The House approved legislation this week to repeal the unfunded program, but also called for the creation of a task force and more study.

Why?

Federal law allows for 12 weeks of leave. It’s not paid, but employees can still be paid if they use sick leave or vacation time.

It’s unrealistic to expect taxpayers to fund this leave, particularly when pressing needs are not being fully funded now.

Lawmakers should stop wasting time and our money pushing a paid family leave program. Simply repeal the unfunded program and focus on the state’s real problems.

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