Letter to the editor: Scott’s paid-leave plan unfair to rural Vermont
We have all heard by now that Gov. Scott vetoed the Paid Family Leave plan that would have covered virtually all Vermonters with a modest .2% payroll tax. He said it was not “affordable” to cover all Vermonters, implying it would be “affordable” if it was his voluntary plan.
He proposed his voluntary private insurance early last year but he has not yet produced a price tag or even found an insurance company that would provide it. What he has said is that the voluntary plan would be provided to all state employees (if they want it) and the yet-to-be-determined insurance rates would be available to other large employers (over 20 people) assuming they got 100% of their people to sign up. He conceded that the cost would be higher if not 100% of the employees signed up. Smaller employers (less than 20) would be charged even higher costs, even more than that if not 100% of their employees did not sign up. Maybe individuals could sign up too but their costs would be much higher yet.
Clearly Governor Scott’s plan favors larger employers over the smaller employers that we in rural areas rely on. Self-employed Vermont businesses would be paying the highest costs. As most of the state’s largest employers are in Chittenden County they would have the benefit of the lowest cost paid family leave. Those of us in more rural areas, with lower wages, would have to pay higher costs so the likelihood of our local businesses making available paid family leave to us rural folks would be low.
Does that sound more “affordable” to you? Does it even sound fair?
We in the rural areas are losing jobs, losing people. We know that the “demographic” crisis that Governor Scott feels is so important, confirms that we are losing our young people as they migrate for economic reasons. Why would Governor Scott propose a paid family leave system that would encourage better employee benefits in Chittenden County at the cost to the rural counties?
Paid family leave is not so important to the wealthy, but would be of great benefit to most Vermonters and the working poor. Those now struggling with infant care, childcare, aged parent care and health care costs would be able to spend some personal time with their loved ones. If you think Vermont should be a level playing field of opportunity, should not pit Chittenden County against the rest of Vermont, if you think paid family leave is a benefit particularly to young working families, or if you just think it is a good idea, contact your legislator and ask them to override the Governor’s Veto.
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