Governor Mills in Press Herald Op-Ed: Why I’m Supporting Paid Family Leave

Governor Janet Mills announced this morning that she will sign a budget agreement that will create a new statewide paid family and medical leave program in Maine.

The Legislature’s Appropriations and Financial Affairs Committee on Wednesday approved a budget proposal that includes legislation and funding to establish a paid family and medical program. The legislation included in the agreement reflects policy changes requested by the Governor to ensure the new program is tailored to meet the needs of Maine families and the Maine economy.

In her op-ed published in the Portland Press Herald today, Governor Mills said she “deeply and personally” understands the value of paid family and medical leave.

“I know firsthand the challenges of providing care to loved ones while trying to manage all the unexpected ups and downs that are simply facts of life. After all, I raised five stepdaughters (yes, five), helped look after my two aging parents, and cared for my late husband, Stan, after his debilitating stroke until his death in 2014 – all while working full time,” she wrote.

“Is this bill perfect? No,” the Governor continued. “But no compromise legislation ever is. With the changes adopted by the Legislature, however, I believe the bill strikes a balance that guarantees the benefits for working families in a way that is financially stable over the long term while avoiding significant hardship on the co-employees, employers, customers, and clients who depend on continuity and stability in our workforce and economy.”

The Governor added that, while she was still concerned about the added costs on Maine people, she has to “measure my concerns about those costs against the prospect of a referendum that would likely result in a payroll tax anyway – a tax that would be exacted in a way that is not responsive to the interests of Maine’s economy, Maine’s workforce, or our thousands of small businesses.”

“Recognizing that, and recognizing that a referendum is not the way we should consider this complicated policy proposal, I will sign the budget agreement that includes paid family and medical leave. While there is more to do to iron out more details during its implementation, this bill is an historic victory for working people and families across Maine,” she concluded. “It is my hope that implementing a paid family and medical leave policy in Maine that accommodates potential hardships for employers will make it easier for people to balance work with life’s unexpected challenges, like caring for a sick child or an aging parent, a change that will support our workforce and strengthen our economy in the long-term.”

In May, the Governor’s Office provided testimony on LD 1964, the legislation that would create a paid family and medical leave program, outlining specific policy changes that the Governor believed were necessary to create a program that would “balance the needs of both Maine people and the businesses that employ them.” Last week, the Maine Legislature voted to move that legislation forward with revisions that largely addressed the Governor’s concerns.

The budget proposal, including the paid family and medical leave legislation and funding, is expected to be considered by the Maine House and Senate in the coming days.

Read the complete text of the Governor’s op-ed.