Senator Jeff Howe
Last year, State Senate Republicans put forward a groundbreaking Paid Family Leave Program that had bipartisan support.
It was part of a larger tax proposal that not only offered the biggest tax cut in state history but also included a tax credit for implementing our Paid Family Leave plan – offering an incentive for businesses and employees. It was innovative, with bipartisan support in the Senate and the House that would have addressed a problem we’ve been hearing about for years. Unfortunately, Democrats decided to stop negotiations at the end of session, making our bill dead in the water.
Our plan was unique. It would have expanded access to paid family leave by offering a free-market solution that gave businesses the ability to customize their plans, based on their employees’ needs. The proposal would have created a paid-family-leave insurance product specifically tailored to paid family leave. Our plan also included a $3,000 per employee tax credit to businesses with fewer than 50 employees, helping make the program more feasible for small businesses. We provided a solution that addressed a need and did so in a way that would have provided flexibility to families, employees and employers.
This year Democrats are proposing a new government agency that will cost more than $1 billion to fund, and it is a one-size-fits-all mandate. This massive bill will expand government by hiring an additional 400 new state employees to oversee the program. This will require new and ongoing taxes to fund this expansion. Cities, counties and school districts will also have to abide by this new mandate, which is going to raise property taxes so they can fund it.
The entire plan means massive property tax increases on citizens and businesses, and it’s going to drive folks out of our state. We cannot expect seniors and those on fixed incomes to be able to afford these increases. Bottom line: folks across the state cannot afford this. This big government program is going to be a mandate, and it’s going to hurt small businesses throughout the state.
We all agree Paid Family Leave is a good concept and is a great asset for families. The Democrat proposal will increase everyone’s property taxes and provide no flexibility. If we are serious about solving this problem, we should work together to refine the insurance option so businesses can provide the benefits their employees are looking for. One-size-fits-all does not fit Minnesota.
(Sen. Jeff Howe has been a state senator since being elected in 2018. From 2013 to 2018, he served as a state representative in the Minnesota House.)