Paying for Family Leave Insurance

A small correction to the Olympian’s coverage of paid family leave:

“…the paid-family-leave program…is scheduled to offer new parents $250 a week for up to five weeks beginning in 2009. Democrats couldn’t agree on how to pay for the program last year and instead created a task force to study the subject.

“The group suggested using the general fund, but Senate Majority Leader Lisa Brown said she backed a 1-cent-an-hour tax on all pay. Told of Brown’s support for a payroll tax later, Gregoire said, ‘Then, we got to take it to the people.'”

The task force recommended start-up financing for family leave to come from state general fund. (Not to mention changes and efficiencies to the program that will save millions of dollars.) As the Olympian itself reported earlier, long-term financing for the program is yet to be determined, and that’s where Sen. Brown’s ideas about a 1-cent-per-hour payroll tax could come into play.

Sidenote: Apparently the best argument against lowering infant mortality, encouraging moms to breastfeed (thereby providing infants with protective immunity to contagious diseases), and allowing women time to recover from childbirth is…a red scare?

Rep. Richard DeBolt of Chehalis, the House Republican leader, is quoted in the same article:

“Canada is socialist. France is socialist. If that’s the model we’re talking about, then we need to say that’s the model we’re talking about,” DeBolt said.

A pink smokescreen is no defense against this simple fact: Of 177 countries worldwide, the four that do not guarantee paid leave and/or a substantial birth payment for parents to care for their newborn babies are: Liberia, Papua New Guinea, Swaziland, and…the United States.

So, Washington State has (thankfully) stepped up to the plate. With both parents juggling responsibilities at work and at home, it is financially impossible for many families to get the flexibility and time they need to be with their newborn or newly adopted child. Family leave insurance provides an important safety net for workers by offering partial wage replacement to parents who must take a few weeks away from work to care for a newborn or newly adopted child.

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