Paid family leave from a job is a wonderful concept. After all, who could object to a mother and father spending five to 12 weeks with a newborn child without having to worry about money?
Well, six years ago the Washington state Legislature was so smitten with the idea it approved five weeks of paid time off for parents to be with a new child. But the luster faded when talk of funding the program began. Things have not gotten brighter over the last six years. Lawmakers have yet to figure out how paid leaves will be funded.
The Legislature delayed the start of the program and then delayed it again. It is now set to start in 2015 — if, of course, a funding source has been established.
Lawmakers — or the public — will not agree on a funding source, particularly given the state’s budget problems. Lawmakers have to find a way to trim $1 billion from the spending requests and then come up with an extra $1 billion to fund basic education.
“It may have seemed like a good idea, but we don’t have the money to do it,” said Sen. John Braun, R-Centralia. Braun, who has been joined by other Republicans and Democrats, is seeking to repeal paid family leave.
“We need to face the reality and deal with it,” Braun said.
And not just the reality of funding the pay for family leave. What about the impact this would have on employers and employees? The leaves would likely be longer if taxpayer funding were added.
Federal law allows for up to 12 weeks of family leave for takeing care of newborns and adopted children. It also includes such things as taking care of sick family member. We support the federal law.
This is unpaid leave. Qualified employees who take family leave use their vacation and sick time or even take it unpaid.
Karen Keiser, D-Kent and sponsor of the original legislation, seems to be looking past the potential problems. She isn’t satisfied with five weeks of paid leave, she wants it boosted to 12 weeks. She also wants to boost the proposed pay from $250 a week to up to $1,000 and then fund it by boosting the payroll tax paid by employers and employees by .01 percent.
Braun called Keiser’s counter-bill one of “good intentions, but good intentions aren’t always affordable.”
Keiser’s plan is out of touch with reality given the current economic climate.
Braun’s got it right. Kill the state law and let the federal law prevail.