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COLUMN: Sen. Rarick - "Discussing the Issue of Paid Family Leave"

Discussing the Issue of Paid Family Leave by Senator Jason Rarick

Paid Family Medical Leave is something we’ve been hearing about for years. Folks across the state have been asking for a plan that helps employees and employers without imposing a costly one-size-fits-all mandate. Last year, Senate Republicans put forward an innovative plan that created an insurance option for implementing paid family medical leave. The plan had bipartisan support in the House and the Senate, and it was put into the final tax bill. Unfortunately, the deal fell through at the end of Session. Now, Democrats are revisiting paid family leave with a new proposal that is simply unworkable for Minnesota.

Senate Democrats have put forward SF-2 as their alternative. Their bill creates a new government agency comprised of over 400 new government workers, all tasked with overseeing employers. The costly plan requires over $1 billion in initial funding, plus continual funding for every year after. It imposes a one-size-fits-all mandate, so the parameters would apply to small “mom and pop” businesses in the same way they’d apply to “big box” corporations. This expansion of bureaucracy is going to lead to higher ongoing taxes, in a time when Minnesotans desperately want tax relief.

Compare this to what Republicans put forward last year, and the plans couldn’t be more opposite. Our plan was unique—it created a free-market solution that would have allowed businesses the flexibility needed to customize the plan. Our bill was part of a larger tax proposal, which also included a $3,000 per employee tax credit to small businesses with less than 50 employees. We wanted to provide an adequate solution that both helps employees and assists small businesses. Our plan addressed a critical need and offered flexibility for all parties, and did so without raising taxes across the state.

You can expect SF-2 to be before the Senate in the coming weeks. Unfortunately, there has been a lack of collaboration on many of these bills. Minnesotans expect us to work together in a bipartisan way to address the needs of the state, and I’m concerned that we haven’t been meeting those expectations. It’s important that all legislators work across the aisle to find common ground on issues such as paid family leave. I’m concerned this bill will move forward in the same way others have so far—with party-line votes striking down any amendment made by a Republican Senator. I still remain hopeful that we can work to find common ground to make SF-2 a feasible option, because one-size-fits-all is not the solution for Minnesota.

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