Roll Call! Senate Passes Payroll Tax to Fund Paid Family Leave (19-10), 2019

 

.H.107- AN ACT RELATING TO PAID FAMILY LEAVE ..

PASSED
in the State Senate
on May 15, 2019 by a vote of
19-10
..
Purpose: To put in place a government-mandated Paid Family Leave program allowing an employee to take up to 12 weeks of paid leave for the birth of a child, or 6 weeks for family care. The program would be paid for with a new payroll tax on income up to $132,900 (the Social Security taxable maximum).
..
Analysis:  This vote would establish a government-mandated insurance program. The program would be funded by a new payroll tax of 0.1% paid by employees and 0.1% paid by employers (0.2% total). In 2021, working Vermonters are estimated to pay $29 million in taxes to fund $20 million in benefits (See JFO analysis linked below). From 2022 onward, Vermonters would pay about $30 million, to fund $28 million in benefits.
..
Benefit eligible employees would receive 90% of their weekly wages that are at or below the Vermont Average Weekly Wage (VAWW is currently calculated at $13.26/hr, which is $27,582/year). They would get an additional 55% of their weekly wages that exceed the VAWW. For example, a worker making $20/hour would receive $625 weekly ($477 for their income qualifying as VAWW, plus $148), for up to 12 weeks. The maximum benefit would be capped at $1,334 per week.
..
The tax would be mandatory for all Vermont employees. Employers would have the option to pay some or all of the employee’s 0.1% share of the tax. A Vermont household making the median income ($58k/year), would be taxed an additional $58 annually, with the household’s employer(s) also being taxed another $58. A Vermont household making the maximum taxable amount ($134k/year) would be taxed $134 annually, likewise for employer(s).
..
Those voting YES believe this program is an desirable benefit that will help retain and attract young families to Vermont. They argue the program must be mandatory or a lack of voluntary participation will drive up premium costs for those who do choose to enter the program.
..
Those voting NO believe the state cannot afford another tax/entitlement program. The program will likely be more expensive than estimated. Those suffering the highest percent tax increase are low income Vermonters. Tens of thousands of Vermonters paying into the program will not earn enough to qualify to benefit from the program, despite paying into it. Finally, small businesses will be less likely to hire more workers if they are forced to pay more for them. If Vermont adopts paid family leave, it should be voluntary, not mandatory.
..
Senate Journal, Wednesday, May 15, 2019“Thereupon, the proposal of amendment recommended by the Committee on Economic Development, Housing and General Affairs, as amended, was agreed to and third reading of the bill was ordered on a roll call, Yeas 19, Nays 10. Senator Benning having demanded the yeas and nays, they were taken and are as follows…” (Read the Journal p. 1252 – 1286)
..
..

How They Voted

Timothy Ashe (D/P-Chittenden) – YES
Becca Balint (D-Windham) – YES
Philip Baruth (D-Chittenden) – YES
Joseph Benning (R-Caledonia) – NO
Christopher Bray (D-Addison) – YES
Randy Brock (R-Franklin) – NO
Brian Campion (D-Bennington) – YES
Alison Clarkson (D-Windsor) – YES
Brian Collamore (R-Rutland) – NO
Ann Cummings (D-Washington) – YES
Ruth Hardy (D-Addison) – YES
Cheryl Hooker (D-Rutland) – YES
Debbie Ingram (D-Chittenden) –  YES
M. Jane Kitchel (D-Caledonia) – YES
Virginia Lyons (D-Chittenden) – YES
Mark MacDonald (D-Orange) – YES
Richard Mazza (D-Chittenden-Grand Isle) – NO
Richard McCormack (D-Windsor) – YES
James McNeil (R-Rutland) – NO
Alice Nitka (D-Windsor District) – YES
Corey Parent (R-Franklin) – NO
Chris Pearson (P-Chittenden) – YES
Andrew Perchlik (D-Washington) – YES
Anthony Pollina (P/D/W-Washington) – YES
John Rodgers (D-Essex-Orleans) – NO
Richard Sears (D-Bennington) – NO
Michael Sirotkin (D-Chittenden) – YES
Robert Starr (D-Essex-Orleans) – ABSENT
Richard Westman (R-Lamoille) – NO
Jeanette White (D-Windham) – YES

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