This week Speaker-designee of the Virginia House of Delegates, Kirk Cox (R-Colonial Heights), offered the Commonwealth a Christmas surprise by announcing that he will lead the way in providing paid family parental leave to all full-time, benefited House employees.
This type of policy change sounds great. We all want to support new families by starting off with time spent together, but this isn’t the role of government. This is the role of the family, the church, and the community. This isn’t about family support. This is about a budget paid for by the people of the Commonwealth. If the government wishes to provide such luxurious benefits, cuts to real wages would need to be made to offset the expense, or else the overall budget line items for personnel increases.
“As a society, we have to do more to strengthen families and encourage women to remain in the workplace. Strong parental leave policies improve morale and reduce turnover, two things critical in public sector workplaces. The House of Delegates will lead by example and provide 12 weeks of paid leave for the birth or adoption of a child to our full-time, benefited employees,” said Cox.
If Cox wants to encourage women to remain in the workplace, then he should work for policies that promote business growth through job creation. He should be encouraging his colleagues in the General Assembly to be working toward a pro-business Virginia where PRIVATE firms, not government, are providing great benefit packages.
This gift is akin to giving your children a puppy for Christmas. At first, the joy-bearing creature races into the living room in all its cuteness, outfitted in a big red Christmas bow. The children laugh and cheer. You all smile and embrace, sharing in the love and adoration of the moment as the Christmas lights twinkle on the tree. Then the puppy takes a great big poop on the carpet and the kids look to you to clean it up. The reality sets in that there are walks at 2am, chew marks on Aunt Bessy’s antique armoire, and a carpet that smells likes the urinal at subway stop. This isn’t at all as great as we thought and once the gift is given, we can’t give the puppy back to the pet shop.
This move by Cox is in direct opposition to his party’s Republican Creed which reads, “We believe that fiscal responsibility and budgetary restraints must be exercised at all levels of government.”
The fact is, under Republican leadership, the VA budget is growing by leaps and bounds while the economy is remaining relatively stagnant. While the population increased at a rate of 8%, per capita spending increased from 2005 to 2015 by a whopping 38%. During this same time period, per capita income only grew by less than ½ a percent. From 2005 to 2016 the state budget increased 75%, with an 8% increase from 2014 to 2016.
Also take into account that between 2005 and 2014, Virginia's per capita income grew at a rate of just 0.36 percent, compared to a national average growth rate of 0.56 percent over the same period. With this move, we can anticipate that the next move will be legislation giving ALL state employees this same leave benefit. The cost to the taxpayer is unknown, but I can assure you it will be a big price tag. Then, what will keep the localities from following the example of the House?
Another consideration is the cost of temporary help, overtime for wages paid to co-workers filling in for the employee of leave, and the lost productivity this extended paid leave requires. This is NOT the same as 12 Week family medical leave covered under the Family Medical Leave Act that is unpaid. Employees have the option of using accrued paid time off toward this leave and ensures job security. It’s optional for an employee welcoming a new member of the family. Furthermore, private companies have the option of providing this paid.
This is just another shift to the left, giving Big Daddy Government more authority and leading to more financial burdens on the citizens due to socialized parenting. If workers and employers want to make parental leave part of their pay package, then wages must be lowered to set aside funds to pay for the costs of leave and replacement workers. This is what small businesses would need to do to pay for such luxurious measures.
Call Speaker-Designee Cox and ask him to stick to the Republican Creed that got him elected. Ask him to lead by offering more fiscally conservative policies that shrink the authority of the government and put hard earned dollars back into the pocket of the people. Fiscal responsibility is the gift that keeps on giving.
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And, if you’re feeling nostalgic this holiday season watch our videos on this topic that ran in January 2017. The Virginia First Foundation was FIRST in this fight for fiscal responsibility. Big Spenders Big Spenders 2