Janet Mills’ criticisms of paid go away invoice might push Maine towards 2024 referendum
AUGUSTA, Maine — Gov. Janet Mills aligned with enterprise teams on Thursday to induce fellow Democrats to rein in a paid household and medical go away plan in a transfer that might nudge progressives towards sending the difficulty to a referendum subsequent 12 months.
Whereas Mills has held conferences in current weeks with trade teams against the push and the 2 Democrats main it, she didn’t lay out her particular objections to the measure publicly till a legislative listening to on the invoice on Thursday.
Legislative Democrats virtually universally assist paid go away, whereas almost all Republicans oppose it. This makes Mills the important thing determine in any legislative answer. However a coalition of progressive teams can put their model on the poll if they don’t like that product, one thing that Mills needed to keep away from however appeared to be a possible path this week.
“I would favor a legislative answer, however I feel that we’ll make the selections that we now have to make to make sure that we now have a program that’s common,” Destie Hohman Sprague, the chief director of the Maine Ladies’s Foyer, a liberal group backing the referendum push, stated after Mills laid out her adjustments.
The measure being heard on Thursday, from Assistant Senate Majority Chief Mattie Daughtry, D-Brunswick, and Assistant Home Majority Chief Kristen Cloutier, D-Lewiston, would make Maine the thirteenth state to undertake some type of paid go away program.
Virtually all are funded by means of a payroll tax capped at 1 % of wages underneath that plan. It will be break up evenly between employers and staff, besides that firms with fewer than 15 staff can be exempt from their portion. Staff can be eligible for as much as 12 weeks of go away per 12 months, with funds capped on the state’s common weekly wage.
Sure elements of the Daughtry-Cloutier plan have been slight concessions to companies relative to a unique plan from a state fee, together with their stripping of job protections for staff who take go away at companies with fewer than 15 staff.
Nonetheless, companies lined as much as assail different elements of the measure on Thursday. Mills outlined an extended record of considerations in testimony from Elise Baldacci, her deputy chief of employees, in testimony. Amongst them was a need to think about decrease wage substitute right down to as little as 66 %, in addition to a hardship exemption Mills deems “too complicated to implement” and different adjustments.
Such a low wage cap would possible be a dealbreaker for progressives whose referendum would end in “a payroll tax applied by means of a blunt coverage” that will not be conscious of Mainers and companies, Baldacci argued. She urged lawmakers to reach at an answer within the State Home, even when it takes till 2024.
“The governor believes that in relation to difficult public insurance policies like this one there may be at all times center floor,” she stated.
That progressive poll initiative loomed over the listening to, with one volunteer who collected signatures for the progressive Maine Individuals’s Alliance saying they heard “highly effective tales” in regards to the want for paid go away in an getting older state.
A College of New Hampshire ballot of Maine earlier this 12 months discovered majority assist for paid go away, though the query didn’t deal with funding. Supporters have cited that polling as one motive lawmakers ought to transfer on the difficulty, however enterprise teams additionally seemed able to have that battle, saying they tried to have interaction with lawmakers however discovered little widespread floor.
“With out vital modifications to the laws earlier than you, Maine’s workforce and economic system will endure,” Quincy Hentzel, the CEO of the Portland Regional Chamber of Commerce, stated in written testimony on Thursday.