Paid family leave bill presents financial, logistical problems
Friday, March 24, 2017
A packed hearing room heard testimony Thursday by a variety of workers who faced situations that paid time off could have made more bearable. House Bill 3087, before the House Committee on Early Childhood and Family Supports, would create a paid family leave for them.
OSBA Interim Director of Legislative Services Lori Sattenspiel pointed out the problems this could cause.
“This bill, while generous and confusing, imposes a substantial financial burden on school districts, creating considerable staffing challenges that threaten the ability to provide quality education to the 550,000-plus students in Oregon’s education system,” she said.
The bill would create the Family and Medical Leave Insurance Benefit program, to be operated by the Department of Consumer and Business Services. A Family and Medical Leave Insurance Fund would be created and funded by employee and employer taxes through payroll deductions. Employees’ share of the contributions into the fund could not exceed 0.5 percent of wages, and then it would be matched by the employer. The proposal would permit an employee up to 12 weeks of family and medical leave benefits per benefit year, for an ever-expandable list of reasons, and an additional six weeks of parental leave benefits after 90 days of employment.
The problem, stated Sattenspiel, would be “managing the current leave system for school district employees and having another leave system overlaid.”
“The bill replicates the Oregon Family Leave Act and creates a mechanism for paying employees while they are out on OFLA leave,” she testified. “Yet the bill makes a number of changes that will have pretty dramatic impacts to school districts and will require the district to track multiple leave requirements, while dealing with staffing challenges this bill would create.”
Rough estimates for the fiscal hit to school districts was calculated at $160 million in the first year of the biennium and approximately $170 million in the second year. Other fiscal aspects of the bill, including administration and oversight of the new benefit, were not calculated.
“At a time when K-12 again is facing significant budget cuts – with a budget number of $8.02 billion, districts are beginning their budgeting process now – this bill would continue to devastate our mission to educate students,” Sattenspiel testified.