Roper: Make paid family leave voluntary, unless nobody wants it, governor suggests

Gov. Phil Scott Facebook page

In January, Gov. Phil Scott appeared alongside New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu at the Schilling Beer Co. in Littleton, New Hampshire, to present a two-state paid family leave plan.

By Rob Roper

For the past year, Gov. Phil Scott has been making the good fight on paid family leave in demanding any such plan be voluntary, not mandatory. But then earlier this week he said on VPR:

Let’s walk before we run. Let’s prove this out, let’s see how it [a voluntary program] works. I mean what’s the harm in doing this as a voluntary program and see how, see if people engage? And if it doesn’t, you can always move to a mandatory system.

No, no, no, no, no, no!

Why in the name of Sam Hill would anyone advocate for, having discovered that a program doesn’t work because nobody voluntarily wants it, making such a program mandatory? That’s equal parts stupid and evil. But this is the Montpelier mindset.

School district consolidation was voluntary until it became clear that nobody (or almost nobody) wanted any part of it. Then it became mandatory. But closing schools was, of course, voluntary within the newly formed districts. Now we’re seeing that school closings are becoming mandatory.

Taxpayer funded pre-K was voluntary for each district to decide for itself back in 2007. That promise was how advocates got a number of needed legislators to go along with voting for the bill. Then, when several districts decided they didn’t want to do it, the Legislature made funding pre-K mandatory. Today the program costs Vermonters $130 million a year.

So, the lesson here is if you don’t want to have a mandatory paid family leave program with its accompanying $30 million to $80 million payroll tax (to start!), then you should not support Scott’s proposed voluntary program either. Just say no. Because the latter is only a stepping stone to the former.

Rob Roper is president of the Ethan Allen Institute. Reprinted with permission from the Ethan Allen Institute Blog.

Image courtesy of Gov. Phil Scott Facebook page

8 thoughts on “Roper: Make paid family leave voluntary, unless nobody wants it, governor suggests

  1. Paid family leave is palatable to the average VT voter because they don’t think they’ll have to pay for it. As listed on the adjacent Guy Page missive.

    “If there are 10,000 government employees, how many family members are there that will be inclined to vote to perpetuate the institution that employs them? Now add colleges, public and independent (UVM, for example, is the State’s largest employer), all local school district employees (and their families), the non-profit employees (and their families), the healthcare providers (and their families), and welfare recipients (and their families), that also rely on the government for their livelihoods – not to mention the legislators and the special interest groups funding them.

    What we have is a dysfunctional majority, which is why there is nothing the rest of us can do but prepare for the inevitable bankruptcy of the State. And it is inevitable.”

    As Ernest Hemingway said when asked “How did you go bankrupt? Two ways. Gradually, then suddenly.”

  2. This is just another failed attempt by him to try and appease the legislators while trying to convince the voters he is actually a fiscally conservative Republican. Does he thing he’s fooling everyone?

  3. One more question. Are these the same folks who set up the committee to study Camden, NJ to establish guide lines for policing activities in Burlington? Wouldn’t surprise me in the least.

  4. Let me get this straight – we’ll test the voluntary route to see if anyone is interested. Ok, Have I got that part right? Now, it turns out that few folks are interested, SOOO, we’ll make it mandatory? Am I missing something, because this doesn’t make any sense at all.

  5. Can anyone think of anything presently being considered in Montpelier that is pro business? I can’t.

  6. Although Vermont would be better of if Phil Scott’s logic was applied to those are elected. Start with allowing them to leave voluntarily, but if in time they do not leave, then make leaving mandatory so government power is shared and not horded.

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