UPDATE: PFML Passes Senate and House, Governor Lamont Flip Flops on Veto Threat

May 31, 2019


Paid Family Medical Leave is an important issue, but it is critical to pass a responsible and bipartisan version that does not hurt the people and businesses of Connecticut. I offered alternative, market-based solutions to implement paid family leave. Despite Governor Lamont’s public veto threat, he continues to be steamrolled by the Democratic House and Senate leadership and “flip flops” to join them to implement another government entity.

The Connecticut State Senate and House of Representatives passed Senate Bill 1, Paid Family & Medical Leave (PFML) along partisan Democratic party lines despite a threatened veto by Democratic Governor Ned Lamont. Governor Lamont is supportive of the PFML concept but made it abundantly clear that he would “veto” the bill in its current amended form that includes a state government management structure, rather than one run by demonstrated professionals who already manage similar disability insurance programs in other states.

However, Senate and House Democrats showed they do not take Gov. Lamont seriously, and voted to pass the PFML legislation he promised to veto. Unfortunately, despite the very public veto pronouncement, Governor Lamont has “flip flopped” again on another critical policy and reached an agreement to adopt in his own words another bureaucratic government entity, “To me we are starting up a $400 million company, a big new insurance program. The idea that it’s going to be lead by this top heavy bureaucracy … just looks like it’s not a recipe for success to me.” (Lamont press conference 5/22)

As the House Ranking Member of the Labor Committee, I voted to support the Family & Medical Leave Act in 2016. I support the values and philosophy of Paid Family Medical Leave of providing wage and job protection for workers caring for loved ones. I heard incredibly compelling testimony from dozens of Connecticut workers who struggle with serious medical issues in their family, and I agree that they should have the option to take paid leave so they can take care of their family without forfeiting their wages or loss of their job.

Connecticut Senate and House Republicans agree that allowing for a paid leave program is critical to the quality of life we want to offer in Connecticut. We released an alternative proposal (LCO 9371) to give Connecticut employees the option to choose a plan they can afford, and allows employers to offer PFML coverage to thousands of workers in Connecticut.

The Republican amendment that was voted on but rejected on party lines by the Democrat majority in the Senate would have the Insurance Commissioner develop multiple PFML options in concert with private sector insurers to provide a choice, rather than a mandate, of paid leave products. In addition, by proposing to break down barriers between Connecticut and other states with similar plans, the Republican plan seeks to create a larger pool from which Connecticut employers and employees in order to reduce costs.

SB 1, the Democrats’ plan, is financed by a mandatory 0.5% payroll tax on Connecticut workers to provide wage replacement benefits. If the fund becomes insolvent, benefits would be cut.  It provides workers with up to 12 weeks of benefits over each 12-month period. According to Senate Democrats calculations  in an amount equal to 95 percent of wages for a worker earning $600 a week, 80 percent for someone making $1,040, 70 percent for $1,280, 61 percent for $1,480, and 56 percent for $1,600. So those with higher earnings would be required to pay the same percentage as everyone else, while being eligible for a smaller percentage of your weekly pay than anyone else.

The amended version of the bill requires the program be administered by a quasi-public agency staffed with at least 135 new state employees. It would cost well in excess of $20 million to start-up the program, with annual costs being entirely funded by employees’ payroll contributions, removing millions from the coverage pool.

The “compromise” reached by Governor Lamont and the Democrats in the House & Senate contains only minor, technical revisions and does not change the impact to Connecticut residents or make meaningful changes to the management structure. We asked the Governor to stand strong and uphold his promise, as we committed to back him up to prevent a veto override. This shows a pattern of broken promises by Governor Lamont. First was his promise to toll only trucks; now he wants to toll everyone. Next was his promise to have an open and transparent government; meanwhile major policies were crafted in the dark with only one side at the table. Then there was a promise to work with state employee unions to find significant labor saving; those efforts have been abandoned.

Republicans learned from our neighboring states that have enacted PFML programs using private market insurers, and realize that a government-insured system is impractical and unsustainable. The program should be optional, affordable, and sustainable. We need to utilize the expertise we have in the private sector to administer and manage this idea. PFML is, essentially, an insurance policy. Insurance is one of the things Connecticut does best! Let’s allow them to develop policies for workers to choose from — let’s give our people a choice to decide what benefits they need and how much they can afford to contribute. Let’s allow for paid family leave, but let’s do it in a way that is affordable, sustainable, and well-managed, not by taking more money out of your pockets.


  1. Senate Bill 1  http://cgalites/asp/cgabillstatus/cgabillstatus.asp?selBillType=Bill&which_year=2019&bill_num=1
  2. CT FMLA law  https://www.ctdol.state.ct.us/wgwkstnd/fmla.htm
  3. Republican Amendment (LCO 9371) http://cgalites/2019/lcoamd/pdf/2019LCO09371-R00-AMD.pdf