Democrats in Minnesota are enacting another highly sought policy proposal. This time, it’s a state program for universal paid leave that will be available to workers dealing with both family and medical issues. The state Senate recently provided its final approval for the plan, and Democratic Governor Tim Walz already indicated he was in support.
In last year’s midterm elections, Democrats secured unified control of the Minnesota legislature and governorship, which has facilitated progress on this front, in addition to the steps already taken to shore up gun safety measures and access to health care, among other concerns. Once implemented in coming years, the Minnesota program would allow for 12 weeks of paid family leave and 12 weeks of paid medical leave, with a cap of 20 weeks of paid leave per year. The initiative would be funded with a slight tax increase, the responsibility for which will be split between workers and employers. It won’t be that much. As cited by the Duluth News-Tribune, a past estimate pinned the additional taxes for workers at around $3 a week.
Funding in support of the program would also come from some of the general budget surplus seen in Minnesota lately. It’s been claimed that about one-third of the workforce in Minnesota, which amounts to nearly a million people, would benefit from the implementation of a universal program for paid leave. Small businesses, defined here as those with 30 or fewer workers, wouldn’t have to pay into the program at the same rate as larger companies.
At the federal level, a group of Democrats including Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (N.Y.) and Rep. Adam Schiff (Calif.) have recently gotten behind their own initiative for universal paid leave. The family members whose needs could essentially spark the protections they want to implement would include those not always seen in such lists, like grandchildren, and recovery from circumstances of sexual and domestic violence would also be covered by the paid leave program. A past initiative from Republicans would have seen workers taking advantage of the leave actually losing out on some of their later Social Security benefits, providing almost no actual boost to workers in need.