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Vermont and New Hampshire governors propose joint PFL plan

Vermont Gov. Phil Scott and New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu proposed a joint paid family leave plan on Jan. 16, 2019. The proposal would create a private insurance company to administer the benefit to employees in Vermont and New Hampshire enrolled in the plan. State workers would automatically be enrolled in the plan, a total of 18,500 workers. Private businesses would have the option to voluntarily enroll their staff in the program. Employees would then be eligible to take up to six weeks of paid leave while receiving 60 percent of their salary. Any individual employee not enrolled by their employer could join the plan on their own. The governors assert the inclusion of state workers in both states would create a large enough risk pool to make the program viable for any employee in either state to join.

Vermont Democrats have already come out in opposition to Gov. Scott’s proposed plan. House Speaker Mitzi Johnson, D-95, and Senate President Pro Tempore Tim Ashe, D-11, offered an alternative proposal that would provide 12 weeks of leave at full pay. The Democrat plan would be funded by a payroll tax applicable to every employee in Vermont. The Vermont Department of Labor would administer the program. New Hampshire Democrats also came out in opposition of the proposal.

Last year, the Vermont Legislature passed a paid family leave program, but Gov. Scott vetoed the plan. At the time, he asserted the program should be voluntary, but did not have an alternative proposal. The joint plan with New Hampshire is intended to create a voluntary program with enough state employees included in the risk pool to make the plan viable. Gov. Scott will provide more details about the plan on Jan. 24, 2019, as part of his annual budget address.