Colorado Chamber: Now is Not the Time for a New Billion-Dollar State Program

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DENVER – The Colorado Chamber of Commerce released the following statement on the recent endorsement of ballot initiatives on paid family and medical leave by the previous sponsors of the legislation:

“It’s disappointing that interest groups have chosen to pursue a billion-dollar program in the middle of an economic crisis,” said Loren Furman, senior vice president of state and federal relations. “The business community came to the negotiating table in good faith to find a thoughtful legislative solution, willing to compromise in order to strike the right balance for a family and medical leave program that works for Colorado.”

The Colorado Chamber played a key role in the Family and Medical Leave Insurance Task Force last year, which was created after the paid leave bill in the 2019 session failed to pass the legislature.

“The uncertainty of the situation globally and nationally has forced many businesses to close temporarily, layoff and furlough valued employees, and seek out financial assistance to stay afloat,” Furman said. “The proponents should understand that any new costs on employers will directly impact their ability to recover from this crisis. Benefits like paid leave are meaningless if Coloradans don’t have stable employment. We need to be focusing on helping people get back to work – now is not the time for a massive and expensive new state program paid for by businesses.”

In a survey conducted on its membership last month, the Colorado Chamber found that one-third of businesses have laid off or furloughed employees due to the COVID-19 crisis, while 14% were considering layoffs in the near future. The same survey found that 28% of businesses believed they were at risk of going out of business in the next 18 months if continuing to operate under the current circumstances.