NATIONAL NEWS

Workers in Maine will get paid family and medical leave starting in 2026

Jul 11, 2023, 11:14 AM | Updated: 11:52 am

PORTLAND, Maine (AP) — Most Maine workers will get up to 12 weeks of paid time off for family or medical reasons as part of a supplemental budget Democratic Gov. Janet Mills signed into law on Tuesday.

The spending bill included $25 million in startup costs for the state program which allows workers — starting in 2026 — to receive paid leave to deal with illness, to care for a relative, or for the birth of a child.

Maine joins a dozen other states that have paid family and medical leave programs. The focus of legislation has been at the state level after failure to gain traction in Congress.

The program caught the attention of the White House, where press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre applauded the state’s action.

“Paid family and medical leave improves the lives of working families and strengthens our workforce and economy,” she said, adding that the Biden administration has worked to make the federal government a model by supporting federal workers in accessing needed leave.

Putting it in personal terms, Mills said that she deeply understood the need for the program — having dealt with the loss of a husband following a debilitating stroke, the realities of raising fives stepdaughters on her own and caring for her own aging parents, all while working full time.

“I know firsthand the challenges of providing care to loved ones while trying to manage all the unexpected ups and downs that are simply facts of life,” she previously wrote in a newspaper op-ed.

The Democratic-led Legislature already approved a nearly $10 billion essential services budget that went into effect on July 1. That budget was approved along party lines in March, Democrats said, to prevent any late partisan attempt to use a government shutdown as a bargaining tactic.

The budgetary addendum, about $445 million dealing with extras, likely won’t go into effect until late October because it failed to muster a two-thirds majority in the Legislature to go into effect immediately.

It includes language to start the paid leave program that will funded through a payroll tax split between workers and employers and capped at 1% of wages. Qualifying conditions include the birth or adoption of a child, a serious illness, care for a sick relative or transition from military deployment.

Key to support were several tax-related proposals including one that raised the amount of pension income that’s exempt from state income taxes from $30,000 to $35,000.

Lawmakers also included money to double the pay of childcare workers, as well as funding for the governor’s proposed Dirigo Business Tax Incentive Plan, which would replace the existing Pine Tree Development Zones.

The governor initially balked at the paid leave proposal, which was opposed by the Maine State Chamber of Commerce and others in the business community, but the bill was tweaked to win her support.

“I am over the moon,” said state Sen. Mattie Daughtry, D-Brunswick, after taking a congratulatory call from the White House and attending the signing ceremony. She sponsored the bill with Rep. Kristen Cloutier, D-Lewiston.

The essential services budget and supplemental budget takes spending to historic levels — about $10.3 billion — but it remains balanced and the state’s rainy day fund remains at a record-high level, said Kirsten Figueroa, commissioner for the Department of Administrative and Financial Services.

___

Associated Press writer Zeke Miller in Washington, D.C., contributed to this report.

National News

FILE - Founder & CEO, for California Forever Jan Sramek talks to reporters after a news conference ...

Associated Press

Silicon Valley-backed voter plan for a new California city won’t be on the November ballot after all

FAIRFIELD, Calif. (AP) — A Silicon Valley-backed initiative to build a green city for up to 400,000 people in the San Francisco Bay Area on land now zoned for agriculture won’t be on the Nov. 5 ballot after all, officials said Monday. The California Forever campaign qualified for the ballot in June, but a Solano […]

3 minutes ago

Kimberly Cheatle, Director, U.S. Secret Service, testifies during a House Committee on Oversight an...

Associated Press

Conservatives use shooting at Trump rally to attack DEI efforts at Secret Service

As Congressional members on both sides of the aisle grilled U.S. Secret Service Director Kimberly Cheatle Monday on how a gunman was able to fire shots at former President Donald Trump in an assassination attempt, several Republican lawmakers seized on gender and the agency’s diversity, equity and inclusion efforts as among the reasons for the […]

19 minutes ago

Deputy Secretary of Defense Kathleen Hicks announces the Pentagon's new Arctic Strategy during a pr...

Associated Press

Pentagon Arctic report calls for more investment in sensors, equipment to keep up with Russia, China

WASHINGTON (AP) — The U.S. Defense Department must invest more to upgrade sensors, communications and space-based technologies in the Arctic to keep pace with China and Russia who are increasingly operating there, including in joint military exercises, a new Pentagon strategy says. Saying that now is “a critical time” for the Arctic, Deputy Defense Secretary […]

54 minutes ago

FILE - Darren Walker, president of the Ford Foundation, participates in the Global Citizen NOW conf...

Associated Press

Darren Walker, president of Ford Foundation, will step down by the end of 2025

NEW YORK (AP) — If there are rock stars in philanthropy, Darren Walker, the president of the Ford Foundation, is one of them. And he’s about to exit the stage. Walker, 64, has been named one of Rolling Stone’s “25 People Shaping the Future” and Time’s “100 Most Influential People” as he led one of […]

1 hour ago

Sen. Bob Menendez, D-N.J., leaves federal court in New York, Tuesday, July 16, 2024. Menendez has b...

Associated Press

Senate Ethics Committee starts review of Sen. Bob Menendez’s conduct following bribery conviction

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Senate Ethics Committee said Monday that its members had voted unanimously to review allegations that Sen. Bob Menendez violated Senate rules, building towards potential disciplinary actions against the New Jersey Democrat after he was convicted of bribery charges this month. The ethics panel could recommend that Menendez be censured or expelled, […]

2 hours ago

FILE - Christopher Dunn, right, listens to his attorney Justin Bonus from New York City during the ...

Associated Press

Missouri judge overturns the murder conviction of a man imprisoned for more than 30 years

ST. LOUIS (AP) — A Missouri judge on Monday overturned the conviction of Christopher Dunn, who has spent more than 30 years in prison for a killing he has long contended he didn’t commit. The ruling is likely to free Dunn from prison, but it wasn’t immediately clear when that would happen. He has been […]

2 hours ago

Workers in Maine will get paid family and medical leave starting in 2026