Failure of State Employee Paid Family Leave Proposal Demonstrates Complexity of Statewide Program

As legislative leadership works behind the scenes to draft a bill that would create a statewide paid family and medical leave program in Colorado, lawmakers have rejected a proposal to do the same for state workers.

The proposal for state employee family and medical leave is a push from Gov. Jared Polis as a way for Colorado to compete for talent as an employer. The governor’s request has gone before the joint budget committee of the legislature, but committee members rejected it due to concerns about the policy as well as the process.

Meanwhile, state lawmakers are expected to file a bill in the coming weeks to create a statewide family and medical leave program in Colorado that would apply to all workers and businesses. It’s currently unclear whether the proposal will follow the same path as previous sessions of creating a state-run paid leave insurance program, or if legislators will take a different approach – such as mandating that employers offer a certain level of benefits for employees.

Regardless, the failure of such a proposal at the state employee level raises key questions about the feasibility of a statewide program – is it wise for lawmakers to force a mandate on the private sector when they can’t even agree on how to structure a program for their own state employees?