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Putting Money in One Pocket, Stealing from the Other

State Senator John A. Kissel speaks against the proposed paid family medical leave program financed by a payroll tax during a Senate Session last week.

In case you missed it, my column last week covered the proposed raising of the minimum wage and the state Senate’s passage of the bill that would do so.

I voted against that legislation because of the serious ripple effects that I believe will result from it, namely more minimum wage workers being laid off, businesses leaving the state, or a rise in prices to make up for the added cost to businesses.

What I find ironic is that while the proponents of a higher minimum wage say they want to put more money in the pockets of everyday people, the same legislators voted to approve a mandatory paid family medical leave program (Senate Bill 1).

 

How will that program be financed, you ask?

You guessed it, a payroll tax. So one day they say they want to give you more money, the next they want to take more in taxes.

Supporters of the paid family medical leave (PFML) bill that passed the Senate last week want to mandate that every worker in Connecticut pay one half of one percent of their paycheck directly into the PFML pool, and for the program to be administered by state employees. It also contained a provision that if the fund was becoming insolvent, the agency overseeing it could unilaterally raise the payroll tax or cut benefits.

The Republican caucus released an alternative plan, where the Insurance Department would be required to develop certain PFML products for employers and employees to choose from if they so choose. The program would also be administered by the private sector, specifically one of the many insurance companies in Connecticut.

Furthermore, the plan proposed to eliminate the walls between other states in the Northeast that offer PFML so everyone could have access to a larger pool, bringing rates down for everyone.

Unfortunately, the Republican plan did not receive the necessary support in the Senate.

I voted against the PFML model passed last week because by making it a mandatory program, the Legislature is saying “We know what’s best for you.” That’s not right. You know what you can afford, and what kind of insurance you should have, which is why the Republican proposal offered that choice while also seeking to make rates as low as possible.

The worst part about passing this mandated PFML bill? Governor Lamont is not on board, and has said publicly he would veto the legislation if it gets to his desk. The majority party decided to spend hours debating the bill anyway – time we could have spent voting on legislation that could actually become law.

State Senator John Kissel (R – 7th)
Previously published in the Enfield Press
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