17 state treasurers are calling for Congress to pass paid family and medical leave

  • Seventeen state treasurers are calling for the passage of paid family and medical leave in the American Families Plan.
  • That’s the second part of President Biden’s infrastructure package, focusing on care infrastructure.
  • According to the Washington Post, it allocates $225 billion towards paid family and medical leave
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

The next part of the White House’s infrastructure package will focus on American families, with education, childcare, and paid leave all set to be major priorities. 

According to the Washington Post, the American Families Plan will allocate $225 billion towards paid family and medical leave. Now, 17 state treasurers are calling for the passage of that measure in an open letter organized by 501(c)(3) For the Long-Term and advocacy group PL+US (Paid Leave for the United States).

The treasurers, who come from states like New Mexico to Vermont, are calling for “the passage of permanent and comprehensive paid family leave and medical leave as proposed in President Biden’s American Families Plan.” Previously, every elected Democratic state treasurer had called on Congress to approve the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan with $350 billion for state and local aid.

The letter comes after 55 progressive groups called on President Joe Biden to go big on care infrastructure — which includes implementing a national paid family and medical leave program. 

“The United States is one of the few countries in the world, and the only high-income country, that does not have a national paid leave public policy in place,” the treasurers write. “The absence of adequate paid family and medical leave creates tremendous risks, especially in this new context.”

In March 2020, a paid sick leave mandate for workers was actually included in President Donald Trump’s Families First Coronavirus Response Act, although the scope of that leave was later diminished. However, an expansion of that mandate was blocked by now-Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell; instead, the bill contained a refundable tax credit for businesses that decided to offer paid sick leave. As Law360 reports, the American Rescue Plan extended that credit through September 30.

In 2002, California became the first state to pass paid family leave, according to left-leaning think tank Center for American Progress. In a press call, California State Treasurer Fiona Ma cited research from the Bay Area Council that looked at the impact of the policy.

That report found “suggestive evidence that following the program’s introduction, employment for new mothers increased overall, and in particular for new mothers between the ages of 30 – 34, who saw an increase in employment of 8.5%.”

A survey of 1,200 companies also found that organizations with better benefits for parents — including more generous leave — had higher rates of employee retention and engagement.

Washington is another state that’s implemented paid leave. In fact, according to state treasurer Mike Pellicciotti, it went into effect in early 2020, right before COVID-19 hit.

“We’ve been able to see that it has been helpful as a part of our economic recovery here in Washington state,” Pellicciotti told Insider. Workers using that leave knew that they had jobs waiting for them on the other side, meaning they could continue contributing to workforce afterwards.

He added: “Everyone should be able to have confidence that they’re not going to lose their job simply because of the life event that they’re experiencing.”

Overall, the American Families Plan may contain around $1 trillion in spending, as well as $500 billion in tax credits, per the Post. That would be paid for with increased taxes on the wealthy, along with investors. However, any infrastructure package will likely have to pass through party-line budget reconciliation, as the GOP has already thrown cold water on potential support.

“We’ve seen in Washington that paid leave works, and it is an important part of our economic recovery post COVID,” Pellicciotti said. “And I think that other states will see that same benefit that we’ve seen here in Washington state.”

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