Vermont Democrats say they won’t pass paid family and medical leave this year

Vermont House Speaker Jill Krowinski, D-Burlington, has conceded defeat for now. file photo by Glenn Russell/VTDigger

Vermont’s Democratic legislature twice vetoed paid family and medical leave bills to Republican Governor Phil Scott. Despite being backed by a historic overwhelming majority in the House this year, Democrats say they can’t even put a bill on his desk.

Vermont House Speaker Jill Krowinski, D-Burlington, has conceded defeat for now. And a week ago, Senate Speaker Pro Tempore Phil Baruth, D/P-Chittenden Central, said in an interview with Vermont Public that the country’s most powerful A vote through the Senate on a House-passed bill that would establish one of its paid vacation programs.

Last week, a representative argued that the 12 weeks of vacation Vermonters have available to take care of themselves and their loved ones is well worth the 0.55% payroll tax being considered by law. , was trying to strengthen his claim.

But Krowinski, one of the chief advocates for paid leave on the state Capitol, said there wouldn’t be a post-session showdown on the topic.

“We have not agreed with the Senate on the funding source. We disagree on how it is administered. We disagree on who is covered by it,” Krowinski said Thursday. “So at the moment, I think it’s best to keep working through the summer and fall and come back in January.”

Nor will the House hold the Senate child care bill hostage. The House now owns the S.56, which will put about $120 million a year into childcare subsidies. Krowinski promised to bring it to the floor next week.

The childcare bill that passed the Senate also included parental leave benefits. But Krowinski said he would stick to the House’s position to repeal the provision and reintroduce the comprehensive package next year. Baruth said the Senate has no problem taking paternity leave so far.

“We agree with that,” he said Thursday.

The Senate has long resisted paid leave. So, to increase the chances of the policy being passed by the Senate in his sophomore year, Krowinski said he plans to make his case public. rice field.

“What I’m hearing is that there’s a strong interest in knocking on doors statewide over the summer and into the fall, holding town halls, and really stepping up the grassroots campaign to educate more about this. I mean,” she said.

Baruth did not exactly invite a public pressure campaign against the Senate. However, he candidly acknowledged that the campaign carried out by advocates for parenting reform “has had a profound impact on legislators and voters.”

“If the vote is on our side[on paid time off]we’re going to need a strong campaign in the offseason,” he said. We’ll see what happens.”

Michelle Faye, executive director of Voices for Vermont’s Children, the group that advocated for paid leave at the session, said it was “important to get this policy right” and that the group will return to the issue next year. said he supported the decision.

“Good policies are worth fighting for, and Vermont’s working families and unpaid caregivers are counting on us,” she said. We are committed to educating and organizing and will return to the next session in Montpelier with a strong and positive voice.”

But if paid leave advocates need to follow in the footsteps of childcare funding, more may be needed. it’s cash.

Let’s Grow Kids, the well-funded advocacy group that championed parenting in the State Council, spent at least $195,000 on advertising for this session alone, according to a disclosure filed with the Secretary of State’s Office. We also paid the lobbyists an additional $35,000.

Voices for Vermont’s Children revealed that total lobbying spending for the session was over $13,000 (not all paid time off). Main Street Action, another paid leave lobbying group, also reported that he made $9,450. According to the disclosure, neither group spent any advertising dollars.

“I have mentioned this in some settings, but our coalition does not have enough money. We’re just shaving a little bit,” said Fay. “And we’re trying to get more investment because we need to have a well-funded campaign to get things done in the Senate.”

Meanwhile, the voluntary paid family and medical leave plans created by the Scott administration are moving forward. Benefits for civil servants will begin on July 1, and employers will be able to buy him a privately-controlled insurance pool in 2024 (regardless of employer participation, according to officials). All workers will be able to opt-in by his 2025).

Democrats and advocates accuse the benefits of being too meager and unlikely to be accessed by low-income workers who need them most. It claims to achieve universal access at low cost to

“Importantly, the governor’s approach does not rely on imposing new taxes and fees on already overburdened Vermonters,” said Jason Maurucci, a spokesman for the governor. “And unlike the proposals considered by Congress this year, the state could create an entirely new bureaucracy with more than 60 new employees or invest hundreds in new IT infrastructure,” it said in an email. We are not relying on adding $10,000 or the ongoing operating costs associated with both.”

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