Wednesday, February 26, 2020

The costs of Gov. Bill Lee's family leave policy could exceed $5 million. Probably closer to $25 million.

by Rod Williams - The Tennessean reports that taxpayers would have paid more than $5 million to cover the costs of thousands of state employees who were on leave last year if Gov. Bill Lee’s latest proposal had been enacted. This number was calculated based on the amount of unpaid leave that employees took last year plus the cost of overtime to cover for absent employees.  The amount of unpaid leave came to $4.2 million. 

If $4.2 million is the monetary value of the unpaid leave employees took, then $5 million has got to be a very conservative unrealistic estimate of what paid family leave would cost.  I am sure there are lots of employees who took only a few days of unpaid leave for the birth of a child or the death of a parent but who would have taken much more if it was paid leave.  A lot of people simply cannot afford to miss many paychecks. I bet lots of fathers who may have taken a week off for the birth of a child, would have taken the full twelve weeks off, if the State was going to pay them for twelve weeks off.

I am not opposed to the policy proposal.  However, if has to be paid for. Perhaps it could be paid for by making the payment a lien against retirement benefits or adjusting the pay increase schedules, but to pretend there is not a cost is ridiculous. A fiscal note has not yet been developed for the proposal. To read The Tennessean story, follow this link.

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