(Host) Republican gubernatorial candidate Jim Douglas and Democrat Doug Racine on Thursday clashed over a proposal to provide paid family leave in Vermont. Currently, state law allows parents of new children to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave, but studies indicate that few people take advantage of the law because they cannot afford to lose their income during this period.
At a forum on Wednesday, Racine said he was committed to passing a paid family leave bill in Vermont and he suggested that it might be paid for by employees, employers, and the state.
Douglas, who opposes a state mandated family leave program, accused Racine of supporting a tax increase:
(Douglas) “We can’t go to the government because we have a serious fiscal crisis. So we just have to have some fiscal responsibility and I don’t see it from my opponent.”
(Host) Racine says the proposal is not a tax increase and is one of the best ways to support new families in the state. Racine is also surprised by Douglas’s opposition to paid family leave:
(Racine) “Mr. Douglas himself says that he would fund early childhood programs as a top priority. Well this is one of the most basic efforts we can make on behalf of young children and this is horribly inconsistent with his other views on early childhood. I’m actually stunned that he would not support this program when he talks so much about the importance of early childhood.”
(Host) Last week, California became the first state in the country to pass a paid family leave law. The legislation is financed through an employee payroll deduction program.