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State Representative Noreen Kokoruda (R-101) voted against legislation to increase payroll taxes on Connecticut residents in an attempt to provide paid family and medical leave coverage to workers statewide.
The legislation—SB 1, An Act Concerning Paid Family and Medical Leave—mandates a one-half of one percent payroll tax on nearly every person in the state to be placed into a fund for distribution for approved medical leave. To allow the fund time to accumulate enough of a balance to run the program, money will not be available for disbursement until after the first year.
Proponents claim the payroll tax will generate enough money from workers to fully fund each covered employees' leave. Opponents say the program is a government overreach and will quickly fail under the pressure of providing such lavish benefits for so little employee investment.
"I have always felt that Paid FMLA [Family and Medical Leave Act] is a major issue for our parents and families, and over the course of my nine years serving as a legislator, I have introduced at least four bills that proposed FMLA programs. With each proposal I tried to help families deal with health issues, childbirth, and other family catastrophes with paid time off from work with assurances of no job loss. There were two things that all my proposals had in common, they were all administered by private or not-for-profit organizations as opposed to government and they were all optional as opposed to a mandate," said Kokoruda.
The Republican alternative would task the state's Insurance Department to develop a voluntary free-market plan, similar to an insurance product, and make it available to both employees and employers. It would allow workers to qualify for paid family and medical leave while treating such leave as an employment benefit, and not a state mandated payroll tax. Employers would be able to offer the benefit to employees as they do other types of insurance and it would further empower employees to purchase such coverage if they found it beneficial to their family circumstances. The amendment failed on a party-line vote of 84-61.
Rep. Kokoruda represents the 101st District communities of Durham and Madison.
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