Jen Kimmich at press conference, Vermont State House

Businesses, Older Vermonters and Working Families Urge House to Override Veto of Paid Family Leave

With an override, the legislature can enact paid family leave that will benefit thousands of Vermont families

A diverse group of working Vermonters, home-grown Vermont businesses, and older Vermonters today urged lawmakers to override the governor’s veto of paid family leave.

“Working Vermonters have been waiting for decades for paid family leave – for a program that will let them take time off to care for their loved ones while still being able to provide for them financially,” Jen Kimmich, a cofounder and CEO of The Alchemist, said at a State House press conference on behalf of Vermont Businesses for Social Responsibility. “Vermont’s businesses want this program because it helps us support the great employees who work hard for us every day.”

Gov. Phil Scott vetoed the paid family leave bill on Friday, despite years of hard work and the strong support of businesses, workers, advocates, and large majorities of lawmakers in both the House and Senate. Overriding the governor’s veto will ensure that thousands of Vermonters have access to this important benefit.

“We’ve heard from others that this paid family leave bill isn’t perfect and isn’t equitable,” said Don Tinney, a high school English teacher who is president of the 13,000-member Vermont-NEA. “I can tell you that the status quo – which is what we’ll be left with if this veto is sustained – isn’t equitable. What the legislature has crafted through fierce debate, advocacy, and, yes, compromise, is a benefit that is publicly funded, widely available, useful and compassionate.”

Many organizations – including other unions, businesses, and health advocates – have worked toward enactment of paid family leave because it will be another way in which Vermont can be a great place to live, work, and raise a family.

“Family caregivers face considerable physical and emotional challenges in caring for older parents, spouses and other loved ones. Putting their jobs at risk or straining the family budget only adds to this burden,” said Linda Bowden, AARP Vermont state president. “It’s time for Vermont to do the right thing and we strongly urge the House to override this veto and allow this measure to pass.”

Even though the bill isn’t perfect, overriding the governor’s veto will benefit many thousands of Vermont households. As Kimmich said in a recent opinion piece she co-wrote with Mamava cofounder and CEO Sascha Mayer distributed to Vermont media outlets, “When Vermonters are able to contribute to and use the paid family leave program, we will be able to continue improving the program. That’s how good public policy works.”

The measure recently cleared the Vermont Senate with a veto-proof majority; the bill in the House cleared with a 31-vote margin. House leadership is expected to bring the measure back to the floor in the coming days.