Gov. Tim Walz calls paid vacation ‘top priority’ for 2022 session as state set to post record surplus – WCCO

MINNEAPOLS (WCCO) – For Sarah Piepenburg, going on paid leave is a personal struggle.

She made arrangements to delay mortgage payments in order to give her beloved employee Linda Landsman time off without losing pay while she recovered from an injury.

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“It’s the right thing to do,” she said, but “it was extremely difficult at that time to find that money.”

Later, Piepenburg said, Linda was diagnosed with ALS. Through tears, she reflected on what might have happened if her family had been able to take time off to care for her in her final days.

“If her grandson had had paid time off, he could have sat with her for the last few weeks of his life,” she said.

At a panel discussion at her Vinaigrette store in Minneapolis on Wednesday, she shared her small business’s struggle to deliver good employee benefits to Governor Tim Walz, who plans to use up some of the surplus budget. record $ 7.7 billion slated for state support for exceeding paid family and medical leave – a social policy expansion that would make Minnesota one of the few states to take that step.

Walz called it a “top priority” when state lawmakers return to St. Paul at the end of January.

“I think society has changed about it,” Walz said, citing the impact of the pandemic. “From a business standpoint, if you say you are pro-business, you support this bill. “

If Democrats were successful in their multi-year quest to get it through, Minnesota would join just nine other states plus Washington, DC, with similar policies, according to one. analysis by the Kaiser Family Foundation.

There are still details to be worked out on what a paid vacation plan would look like next year, but Walz and Department of Employment and Economic Development commissioner Steve Grove said on Wednesday the intention was to use part of the surplus to cover the $ 40 million it will cost to set up the program.

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It would be funded on an ongoing basis by a payroll tax to the tune of “the price of a cup of coffee per week per worker,” Grove said, and it would go into a state account, similar to the fund. special allocation of unemployment insurance. An analysis of a previous proposition in the legislature estimated that more than $ 1.2 billion in new tax revenue would be needed.

The commissioner said more than a quarter of Minnesotans did not have access to such benefits. The workers would request it through DEED.

Employers could opt out and pay a penalty, Grove added, and a grant will be available to “fill” small businesses that can’t afford to have an employee out of work for an extended period.

“We really see this as a workforce development program,” Grove said. “It’s fierce competition out there right now. We don’t take anything for granted in our condition. We have to differentiate Minnesota if we are to win this next chapter in our economy. “

DFL lawmakers have previously unsuccessfully attempted to push legislation out of the state capital and Republicans in the divided government have not changed their position, which runs counter to a state mandate and an increase corporate taxes. One proposal is expected to clear the GOP-controlled Senate.

Last year, then Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka called a paid vacation plan “a one-stop-shop with a huge price tag” that will lack accountability.

Federal law allows certain workers to ttake 12 weeks of unpaid leave following the birth or adoption of their child, but the United States is one of the few countries no national paid vacation policy.

The “Build Back Better” law passed by the United States House of Representatives includes a lean proposal of four weeks of paid leave.

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