SiX Condemns Vermont Governor’s Vetoes of Legislation to Raise the Minimum Wage and Provide Paid Family Leave

May 2018

Gov. Phil Scott vetoed the two pieces of legislation over demands from working families and advocate organizations

MONTPELIER, Vt. —  On Tuesday, the State Innovation Exchange (SiX) condemned Gov. Scott’s vetoes of legislation to raise the minimum wage and give Vermonters access to paid family leave.

“By passing these bills, the legislature stood up for working families because they believe no one should have to choose between their paycheck and caring for a loved one, and no one working 40 hours a week should be forced to live in poverty,” said Sam Munger, Senior Director of External Affairs for SiX. “Gov. Scott says he wants to make the state more affordable, but by killing these important pieces of legislation, he just made the lives of working Vermonters harder.”

The Vermont legislature approved the paid family leave bill, H.196, which was sponsored by Sen. Michael Sirotkin, D-Chittenden; Rep. Matthew Trieber, D-Windham; Rep. Samuel Young, D- Orleans-Caledonia; and Rep. Sarah Copeland-Hanzas, D-Orange.

“I was hoping the governor would realize that a paid family leave program would directly work toward his goal of attracting young families to Vermont,” said Rep. Young. “Now, all he has is marketing and slogans rather than a tangible policy that would help everyday working Vermonters and show this state’s commitment to our families.”

The bill would direct the state to create an insurance program that would provide Vermonters up to 12 weeks of leave to welcome a newborn child and up to six weeks of leave to care for an ill or injured family member. The insurance program would offer Vermonters 70 percent wage replacement—up to $1,042.40 each week—during their leave. This would have been the highest wage replacement amount in the country.

The program would be funded by a 0.136% employee payroll deduction —  just under $70 a year for a person making $50,000 — and would give employers the option to pay the contribution on behalf of employees. Workers that have earned at least $10,710 in Vermont during the last 12 months would be eligible for the program.

The minimum wage bill, S.40, was sponsored by Sen. Sirotkin and Sen. Deborah Ingram, D-Chittenden. It would have raised the minimum wage from its current level of $10.50 to $15 an hour over the next six years.

The Vermont legislature adjourned May 13. Gov. Scott has called back legislators for a special session to address the state budget and tax legislation; however, the General Assembly will likely be unable to override any of his vetoes.