Thursday, January 30, 2020

How Council Members voted in calling for a new generous employee benefit.

Steve Glover
by Rod Williams - At the January 21st Council meeting the Council passed a memorializing resolution commending Governor Lee for an executive order that authorized most State employees to be eligible for 12 weeks paid leave due to the birth of child or some other family emergencies. The resolution also called upon Metro Government, including Metro Schools, to offer the same benefit.

Governor Lee claims this new benefit will be paid for by taking a little from this fund and that fund to pay for it and that it will have minimal fiscal impact. I am not buying it. It is not possible to provide such a generous benefit without a price tag.

There may be a way such benefit could be paid for without increasing government cost. Such a benefit could possibly be paid for by a reduction from the employees retirement account. I would not oppose studying the issue but I oppose this resolution just called for Metro to provide it. If no one has noticed, Metro is broke. The city had to scramble to cut cost and had to raise water rates to make the budget balance. In the next budget session I expect a call for a major property tax increase. 

While a memorializing resolution when expressing a point of view or a desired policy is pretty much meaningless when directed toward State or Federal government, when the Council goes on record expressing a desired Metro government policy it does mean something since the Council is the legislative body of Metro government.

Russ Pulley
I think this resolution was fiscally irresponsible. Below are the sponsors of the resolution:

Sponsor(s): Colby Sledge, Nancy VanReece, Sean Parker, Zachary Young, Joy Styles, Kyonzté Toombs, Gloria Hausser, Ginny Welsch, Thomas Cash, Russ Bradford, Bob Mendes, Tonya Hancock, Emily Benedict, John Rutherford, Sharon Hurt, Delishia Porterfield, Antoniette Lee, Freddie O'Connell, Burkley Allen, Zulfat Suara.

Here are how members voted:
Voting Yes (34): Mendes, Hurt, Allen, Suara, Toombs, Gamble, Robert Swope, Parker, Withers, Benedict, VanReece, Hancock, Young, Larry Hagar, Evans, Bradford, Rhoten, Syracuse, Welsch, Sledge, Cash, O'Connell, Roberts, Taylor, Hausser, Thom Druffel, Murphy, Robert Nash, Porterfield, Sepulveda, Rutherford, Lee, Angie Henderson, and Rosenberg.

Above I have underlined the names of those who disappoint me by there vote.I did not expect better from the other "yes" votes.

Voting No (1): Steve Glover;
Courtney Johnson

Voting Abstain (2): Russ Pulley and Courtney Johnston.

Not voting: Two members were absent from this meeting Jonathan Hall and Tanaka Vercher. That means this person may have been distracted, out of the room or could have just set on their hands or possibly could have arrived for the meeting late.  The missing not voting member is Joy Styles. I am not giving Styles any credit for not voting since she was one of the sponsors of the resolution. 

I commend Steve Glover, Russ Pulley and Courtney Johnston for their fiscally responsible vote. 

Below is the text of the resolution:
Resolution RS2020-172

A Resolution commending Tennessee Governor Bill Lee for Executive Order 11 regarding paid family leave, and calling for all areas of Metro Nashville government to implement paid family leave policies equal to or greater than the paid family leave outlined in the aforementioned executive order.

WHEREAS, Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee signed Executive Order 11 on Tuesday, January 7, 2020; and

WHEREAS, Executive Order 11 allows for more than 38,000 Tennessee state employees associated with departments with the state’s executive branch to begin taking up to 12 weeks’ paid time off for qualifying family and medical situations under the federal Family and Medical Leave Act, starting March 1, 2020; and

WHEREAS, Tennessee state lawmakers have indicated they will pass legislation in 2020 that will apply the provisions of Executive Order 11 to an additional 3,100 Tennessee state employees; and

WHEREAS, the Metro Nashville Civil Service Commission adopted a paid family leave plan in 2017 that allows up to 6 weeks’ paid time off if they are full-time Metro government employees who have worked for Metro for at least six months, are new parents, or are caring for a seriously ill spouse, parent or child; and

WHEREAS, several areas of Metro government, most notably Metro Nashville Public Schools, do not have a paid family leave policy; and

WHEREAS, Nashville is home to several large employers who offer similar or more generous paid maternity and paternity leave; and

WHEREAS, Knoxville Mayor Indya Kincannon has indicated she will call for a paid family leave policy for Knoxville government employees similar to that of Executive Order 11; and

WHEREAS, it is in the interest of Metro government to ensure its employees are provided adequate paid family leave for the health and well-being of Metro employees and their family members, to reduce taxpayer costs of employee turnover and attrition, to create an attractive work environment for prospective employees, and to uplift Metro government employees as valued members of Nashville and Davidson County.


Section 1. The Metropolitan Council hereby goes on record as calling for the expansion of Metro Nashville’s current paid family leave policy from six weeks to at least 12 weeks, as outlined in Executive Order 11; and further goes on record as calling for all areas of Metro Nashville government, including Metro Nashville Public Schools, to implement a paid family leave policy equal to or greater than the policy outlined in Executive Order 11.

Section 2. This Resolution shall take effect from and after its adoption, the welfare of The Metropolitan Government of Nashville and Davidson County requiring it.

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