Delaware Governor Carney Backs 12-Week Paid Parental Leave for S - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Delaware Governor Carney Backs 12-Week Paid Parental Leave for State Workers

Posted: Jan 09, 2018 7:35 PM Updated:

DOVER, Del. --- Delaware Gov. John Carney on Tuesday formally announced support for a House bill creating a 12-week paid parental leave policy for state workers who have a new baby born into their family or adopt a young child.

House Bill 3 would allow male and female state workers to take up to 12 weeks paid leave within one year after the birth of a child and the adoption of a child under the age of 7 years old. The legislation was introduced last year, though Carney did not openly announce he would back it because the state was grappling with a budget deficit that was projected as high as nearly $400 million.

Supporters say the legislation existing parental leave policies force some state employees to return to work more quickly than they should, preventing parents from to spending time, caring, and forming bonds with their newly-born or adopted children. The proposal is also seen by some supporters as a way to make state jobs more competitive.

Paid parental leave, as proposed under HB 3, is estimated to have a price tag of more than $1 million during the last six months of Fiscal Year 2019 and a annual cost of more than $2 million. The proposed law would go into effect on Jan. 1 2019.

Lori Sebastian, a teacher at Brick Mill Elementary School in Middletown said she hopes to be able to take advantage of the proposed policy because she used nine weeks of accrued paid time off to care for her daughter. Her husband also quit his job so he could directly provide childcare.

"I'll be able to stay home or even longer with another child and not worry about the same things I worried about earlier, which was possibly not getting a paycheck," she said.

Tom Brackin with the Delaware State Troopers Association said 12-week paid family leave would also benefit law enforcement officers like troopers or correctional officers who may need time to help care for children amid their stressful schedules.

"God forbid the baby has an illness or something. You end up going into deficit time, which is what we see from a lot of members in delaware's law enforcement community," he said.

However, some lawmakers have questioned whether the bill should be a priority amid concerns about state spending and over issues like fairness and cost.

Rep. Ruth Briggs King said she is conflicted about the legislation.

"Last year, $2.5 million was a lot of money in the budget that would have paid for the prescription assistance program for our seniors and those who are most needy," she said.

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