A bill that would have brought paid family leave to Connecticut died in the legislature this week, despite having been a priority for Democratic Senate leadership. Though the bill had been the subject of bipartisan negotiations earlier in the session, it failed to get the support it needed to advance.
Detractors questioned the cost of the program and the burden it could place on businesses. But backers argued the proposal would have improved people’s lives, giving employees not only time off work to care for a family member, but also the money to afford that time away.
It would have allowed for eight weeks of paid family and medical leave in its first year for established employees, and would have been paid for entirely with employee contributions -- though the state would have had some costs to administer the plan.
Before tabling the legislation this week, Senate Democrats spoke out in favor of the bill for over an hour. Senator Beth Bye said the stressed the economic importance of healthy families.
“Families health and economic well-being are critical to our economy, too. And critical for our workforce, critical for our quality of life, critical for our economic future,” Bye said. “So I ask that, going forward, this chamber give families in Connecticut the same pressure, the same focus, the same energy as we give other items before us.”
In expressing his support of the bill, Senator Gary Winfield told how he was fortunate enough to get to spend time with his mother while she was dying -- something not all Connecticut workers can afford to do. He said the bill would have cut across all of the state’s demographics.
"It’s a story about all of us," Winfield said. "This is about humanity. We come here to say that we offer a little bit of safety to people. It’s at the core of what we do."
But, in the end, the measure didn’t have enough support to move forward. The bill would have made Connecticut the fifth in the nation to enact such a law -- after California, New Jersey, Rhode Island, and soon, New York.