Oh, boy! Connecticut, the state in which I live and work, now has a paid family leave program. With this headline — “Gov. Ned Lamont just signed a sweeping family and medical leave law” — here’s how the Hartford Courant trumpeted this wonderful news:
Gov. Ned Lamont on Tuesday signed into law one of the nation’s most expansive family and medical leave programs. “It’s about time,” Lamont said at a news conference in the Old Judiciary Room at the state Capitol, flanked by lawmakers and others who had supported the bill. “[This bill] means you can now take the time you need to care for a sick child, to care for a new child and do what you’ve got to do and you don’t need to choose between a job and someone you love.”
And the website set up for the program touts it this way:
The Paid Family and Medical Leave Act (PFMLA) offers Connecticut workers the opportunity to take time to attend to personal and family health needs without worrying about lost income. The CT Paid Leave Authority provides Connecticut’s workforce access to paid family and medical leave benefits by offering helpful tools and resources to help administer this new program.
Woo hoo! What kind of a heartless bastard would you have to be to oppose any such thing? Well, it depends.
The Morning After
If you dig just a little bit deeper, you’ll find this buried in the Courant article:
Connecticut’s plan is paid for by a 0.5 percent payroll tax levied on all employees.
If you go rogue and start digging for the reality of the bill, you’ll discover it had 77 sponsors, all from the same political party. (Draw your own conclusions here.) If you keep digging, you’ll also find the way the members of the State House and Senate voted. And you’ll likely find yourself recalling this line from Fred Sanford:
Promise ’em an elevator, and give ’em the shaft.
Then, if you’re anything like me, you’ll probably start playing the PFMLA out hypothetically:
Let’s say you have one employee on your payroll. Let’s say she’s been with you for 12 years. Because you’re a decent human being who believes in doing right things, you’ve happily paid her full salary for all the time off she’s ever taken, including illnesses, vacations, and two maternity leaves. And let’s say you’ll continue to do so for as long as she’s on your payroll.
Under the PFMLA, that employee will have to contribute 0.5% of her earnings with no guarantee of ever getting it back:
Contributions are aggregated into a state trust fund … Individuals cannot withdraw their contributions or seek refunds on the grounds that they have not applied for benefits … There is no reimbursement for employees close to retirement or for employees who never utilize the program. Employees who participate in the plan make contributions that are paid into a pool and become a permanent part of the Trust Fund.
This raises as many questions as it does eyebrows:
- What should you (continue to) do if you’re an employer?
- Why should any employer be forced to register for this plan?
- Why should any employee be forced into contributing to this plan?
- What was the one political party that sponsored and passed the PFMLA hoping to gain, other than votes from the unwitting and more money?
It’s only a matter of time until the PFMLA turn into a State-sanctioned Ponzi scheme like the Social Security Administration. The Connecticut General Assembly will spend the money to fulfill whatever irresponsible promises it makes as long as they can continue to bilk employees of yet another chunk of their earnings. And along with death and taxes, we can to the list of certainties that the description of the PFMLA will never be re-rewritten to say this:
The Paid Family and Medical Leave Act (PFMLA) offers Connecticut workers the opportunity to take time to attend to personal and family health needs without worrying about lost income — except for the income we take. The CT Paid Leave Authority provides Connecticut’s workforce access to paid family and medical leave benefits — as long as they pay for those benefits themselves and let us use the alleged Trust Fund as funny money.
Just when I think I can no longer be shocked by the things we settle for ….