Vermont House approves paid family leave plan

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MONTPELIER, Vt. (WCAX) The Vermont House on Thursday approved a paid family and medical leave plan after hours of debate.

The House voted 92-52 to advance it, but they failed to hit the 100-vote mark needed to override a veto.

Coming up short of 100 votes could be significant because Gov. Phil Scott, R-Vermont, does not support the mandatory program the House passed.

Here's what the bill does: It provides paid family leave for new parents of up to 12 weeks and paid leave to care for yourself or a relative for up to eight weeks.

All working Vermonters will pay a 0.55-percent payroll tax on their wages. The program would provide 90 percent wage replacement on the first $27,000 earned, and 50 percent on remaining wages up to $116,538.

Reaction to the program was been mixed during Thursday's debate.

"We think it's a policy that will give Vermonters a fair shot at living a life of dignity and respect. We know one policy can't do it all but some policy initiatives because they're so powerful and universal, point the way toward achieving our goals," said Rep. Tom Stevens, D-Waterbury.

"We are concerned that it's not financially sustainable, we are concerned that it may be inequitable and we are concerned that it is not flexible enough," said Rep. Cynthia Browning, D-Arlington.

Overall, the program will cost $76 million per year and millions more if taxpayers pick up the tab for state and school employees.