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Whose job is it to pay for family bonding time?

(AP Photo)

The paid family leave program signed into law when the Legislature passed the $43.7 billion state operating budget closes a loop left undone in 2007.

Ten years ago, lawmakers created the program to offer employers five weeks of paid time off for new parents, but there was never a way to pay for it.

That money has to come from somewhere and Dori Monson argues that if a business budgets $90,000 for benefits and salary, an additional $6.54 per week to cover family leave will come out of the employee’s potential salary.

“There is a range of people who supported this deal that are fooling themselves if they think these numbers are going to stay where they are,” said Senator Michael Baumgartner (R-Spokane). “The state already has a very poor mandated state-run insurance system for worker’s compensation – one of the worst state-run monopoly insurance mandates in the country for business. And now another one has been set up for leave insurance.”

Dori doesn’t understand why saving up for time off is now up to the state to figure out. He suggests saving money for three years before having a child.

“When did we get so far away from that concept?”

Baumgartner said it’s part of a slide towards European-style welfare socialism that leaves many businesses with little choice except to shut down.

“It’s just not what America’s built on,” Baumgartner argues. “It’s not the system of free market capitalism that built this country.”

The senator said he supports parents who want to take time to bond with their newborn children. The problem is a mandate that takes control away from the business and its employees.

“I really wish we would have fought this because we ought to stand for good policy, not pass bad policy because we’re afraid of worst policy,” he said.

A listener who supports the new family leave program asked Dori: You don’t believe couples making $175,000 per year can afford $680 per year?

His response:

What I believe? I don’t believe it’s any of your business what a couple making $175,000 a year does with $680. I think it’s their business. This notion that you feel like you have some stake on their money because it’s a cause that you agree with – so you have to tell other people to give up their money for that cause?

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