HARTFORD — Two bills that would require every employee in the state to contribute to a paid Family Medical Leave Trust Fund cleared the Finance, Revenue and Bonding Committee Monday by a vote of 27-21.
Freshman Democratic Reps. Jill Barry, D-Glastonbury, and Kerry Wood, D-Rocky Hill, joined Republicans on the committee in voting against the bill.
Barry said if the vote Monday was strictly on the policy she would support it, but she is tasked with assessing the fiscal impact of the bills.
“I am a numbers girl, and at the moment the numbers are not adding up for me,” Barry said.
Small employers were the main concern for most lawmakers who voted against the bill, and even those who voted in favor.
Under the legislation, all employees in Connecticut would contribute 0.5 percent of their weekly paycheck to a state-run trust fund, which would pay them during their approved leave. It would apply to companies with as few as a single employee.
The current federal Family and Medical Leave law, which protects employees but doesn’t offer them any pay while they’re on leave, only applies to employers with more than 50 employees.
Rep. Joe Polletta, R-Watertown, said that 100 percent wage replacement over a 12-week period is not a sustainable program.
He pointed out that even Gov. Ned Lamont’s bill is not that generous.
The governor’s bill, SB 881, says an employee could earn 90 percent of their typical earnings up to $600 per week for anyone making around $15 an hour and 67 percent up to $900 for workers earning more than that.
The other two pieces of legislation passed Monday by the Finance Committee offer a wage replacement level of 100 percent, up to a maximum of $1,000, which is much higher than programs in other states.
Polletta said his family runs a small electrical business and if his company has three electricians out on 12 weeks of leave “who know the customers, know the job, know the daily routine,” then “we are in a tough predicament. We either have to hire a temp worker or pick up the work ourselves and for a lot of small businesses that’s unsustainable.”
Rep. Josh Elliott, D-Hamden, said the average number of weeks employees currently take is around seven weeks.
He said he doesn’t believe solvency of the Paid Family and Medical Leave Trust Fund is an issue.
The Office of Fiscal Analysis estimates that the legislation will cover an estimated 103,600 employers with approximately 1,456,000 employees.