Working Families: As Connecticut Legislature Fails to Act, New Jersey Set to Massively Expand Successful Paid Family and Medical Leave Program
Legislators using fiscal crisis to avoid passing paid family and medical leave legislation
In response to the New Jersey state legislature’s passage of an expanded paid family and medical leave program.
Carlos Moreno, Interim State Director of Connecticut Working Families:
“Connecticut legislators would be wise to look to the New Jersey state legislature, which just voted to expand their existing paid family and medical leave program, almost doubling benefits for employees. Even as the state wrestles with its own budget shortfall, New Jersey legislators understand that paid leave is good for employees, business, and their economy. Connecticut legislators should take note.”
“It is long past time that Connecticut politicians stopped playing politics with people’s lives and passed a comprehensive paid family and medical leave program. We know that this bill pays for itself, comes at no cost to the state, brings no cost to businesses, and is self-sustaining. That is written into the bill, as in New Jersey. We also know that voters support it,¹ that small businesses want it,² and that neighboring states are benefitting from their own paid leave policies.”
“Unfortunately, some legislators are using the state’s fiscal crisis to prevent a paid leave program from being passed, continuing to spread inaccurate information and raising unsubstantiated fears about the cost to the state. We’ll keep reminding them until it’s clear: the state would not pay for the program. It is employee funded. Our legislature is failing our families.”
The Working Families Organization, along with allies, has fought to pass a paid family and medical leave program for years, mobilizing advocates, supporters, and small businesses, all of which have called on legislators to pass this legislation. Scores of small businesses have signed on in support. Over 83% of CT residents polled want paid leave. Another recent study revealed that 77% of small business owners (SBOs) in Connecticut favor establishing a paid family and medical leave program.4 The poll also revealed that SBO members of the Connecticut Business & Industry Association (CBIA) and regional chambers of commerce also strongly support the paid leave legislation. Despite wide popularity of this proposed legislation, a small contingent of well-financed, special interest groups in Connecticut continue to influence legislators to stall on passing the bill.
A massive expansion to New Jersey’s successful paid family and medical leave program passed the New Jersey State House and will soon arrive on the Governor’s desk.3 In 2009, New Jersey became the second state in the nation to protect its workers and stabilize its economy with a paid leave program. Eight years later, Connecticut’s legislature still fails to act.
New Jersey is so happy with the fruits of their paid leave program, in fact, that this expansion bill grows the program’s benefits in all aspects. This new legislation significantly increases the wage replacement rate and maximum benefits, doubles the weeks of eligibility, increases flexibility in intermittent usage for bonding, provides additional job protection, expands the definition of family to meet broader modern standards, and introduces coverage to protect family members who are victims of domestic or sexual assault.3