Democrats differ over paid family leave for state employees

By Marianne Goodland

COLORADO POLITICS

During a Tuesday briefing with Senate Democratic leadership, Sen. Rachel Zenzinger pushed back against the Polis administration’s plan for a paid family leave program for state employees, stating that the program as proposed by the governor wouldn’t be fair to state employees.

What Gov. Jared Polis proposed isn’t a real paid family leave program, said Zenzinger, D-Arvada, who sits on the Joint Budget Committee that unanimously voted down funding for the proposal last week.

The top reason for rejecting the Polis proposal was that the program lacks statutory authority, but there are other problems, too, Zenzinger said.

Zenzinger’s take is that it wouldn’t apply to all state employees, rendering it unfair to those left out. “If you’re going to do something along the lines of paid family leave, it should be equitable and apply to all employees.”

Zenzinger said the benefit under the governor’s proposal is actually to the state, which gets reimbursed for the employee’s time off, making it different from paid leave proposals supported by legislative Democrats.

The JBC also had concerns about the program’s lack of detail, she said.

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