Why would Republicans target family leave benefits right now?
In Colorado, new GOP campaign mailers went out recently targeting three key Democrats in toss-up state Senate districts.
The advertisements warned that Jessie Danielson, Brittany Pettersen, and Faith Winter are out of touch with voters because they support a proposed bill to create a statewide fund for paid family leave benefits for working Coloradans.
“The advertisements allege that support for the family-leave program by Danielson, Pettersen, and Winter shows that they are too partisan and should be defeated in November’s election,” The Colorado Times Recorder reported.
The move comes as the GOP tries to maintain control of the Colorado Senate, where it holds just a one-seat majority.
Danielson, Pettersen and Winter are running in three of the five key toss-up races that will likely determine control of the upper chamber next year.
Will the GOP’s family leave strategy work?
It seems strange to target women trying to support families by passing family leave legislation, and leveling the attacks during what’s being described as a Year of the Woman on the campaign trail, when a record number of women are running for office nationwide.
It’s also odd considering the fact that family leave proposals remain a widely popular initiative among voters.
A poll conducted this summer of more than 9,000 voters from 15 states, including from Colorado, found that 61 percent favor a law that would create a national paid family and medical leave fund. That includes 84 percent of Democrats, 50 percent of Independents and even 42 percent of Republicans.
The family leave plan that Democrats have supported for years in Colorado aims to create a statewide fund for paid family leave benefits for working Coloradans who face a long-term illness or who are caring for a sick family member, a newborn or newly adopted child.
The statewide fund would be managed by the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment.
According to Denver Post estimate, for a Colorado worker earning a median income of $62,000, the program would cost them $630 a year, for $12 each week. In return, they would be eligible to ear 66 percent of their salary for up to 12 weeks in the event they need to take advantage of the family leave act.
2018 marked the fourth time in five legislative sessions that a Democratic-backed bill to create an employee-funded, paid-leave system failed to make it out of the legislature, thanks to Republican obstruction in the Senate.
In 2018, control for the Senate is up for grabs.
It’s possible Republicans will end up helping Democrats by spotlighting their support for the popular family leave push.