Written By: Sneha Sridhar
Good news, new and expecting parents! California’s new governor, Gavin Newsom (D) just proposed the longest paid parental leave policy in the U.S. The state’s existing parental leave allows parents to take six weeks of paid leave, receiving 70% of their salary. If this proposal goes through, parents can care for a newborn or newly adopted baby for six months with partial pay, making it a big step up from the original program. While this seems groundbreaking for the nation, the United States is the only industrialized country in OECD (Organization for economic cooperation and development) who does not offer it’s workers six months of paid parental leave.
Newsom’s plan, as a part of his 2019 budget, allows the two caretakers to split the six months off, with one parent taking a three-month leave and the other parent taking the additional three months. Also, Newsom revealed in a press conference that the paid parental leave is funded by the state’s $209 billion budget. “It’s a developmental necessity,” Newsom told reporters at the press conference. There is a belief, started by business companies, that paid parental leave is costly. This is a myth since workers in California pay a 1% payroll tax on wages of up to $115,000 to fund the paternal leave program. Newsom claims that the fund is currently in a surplus so that this expansion would be taken out of that surplus. He also mentioned raising the payroll tax or raising the income limit if the excess is not enough to fund the expansion on the parental leave.
Newsom’s budget is also focused on “cradle-to-career opportunities.” This will help children and parents with childcare and education investments. In the proposal, extra funding has been claimed to ensure that all children in California can attend a full-day kindergarten. Health and economic research prove that having six months of paid parental leave leads to positive health and mental outcomes for children and eases financial pressures during a significant time. It helps children and the parents. Ultimately, Newsom’s paid parental leave program is a fantastic program for new parents, and there is no overstating that longer paid parental leave improves public health and the economy. The only question is how the expanded program will be funded in the long term.