(to read all of my blog posts, go to http://www.generationsofneweyork.com)
Governor Andrew Cuomo used a touching reflection about his father’s last days to introduce his proposal for a family leave program in his budget and State of the State Address yesterday. The Governor recounted how he regrets not spending more time with his father in his last days before he died on January 1, 2015 . The Governor said he wished he had taken more time off to be with his father and then said many people don’t have that chance and that the relationships are important in life.
The Governor’s decision to include family leave comes after a strong campaign led by a coalition of public interest, health care, child and senior advocates and labor unions. The coalition had recently met with the Governor’s staff to ask him to include the proposal in his budget and champion it.
Though the Governor’s proposal is still being analyzed by the coalition, it differs somewhat from the proposal that the coalition supports and was passed by the Assembly in the spring. That bill ran the program through the state’s Temporary Disability Insurance program and included employee and employer contributions. The Governor noted his proposal is “employee funded.” Apparently, the Governor’s office did not want to give the business sector a reason to oppose it. The program would be run through the workers compensation system. Also the Department of Financial Services would determine the mandatory amount to be paid in by employees each year through a payroll deduction. Senator Jeff Klein was reported in the media as saying the cost would be about $35 per worker per year. That would be about $1.35 per bi-weekly paycheck.
The State Senate has expressed interest in family leave but was really concerned about the impact on businesses and had not endorsed the Assembly bill. They should be more supportive of the Governor’s proposal and might be more willing to embrace to show their support for workers as they resist his effort to raise the minimum wage to $15/hour.
Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie said that family leave would be a top priority of the Assembly again.