This fall, Governor Gregoire announced she is suspending development of the Family Leave Insurance program’s computer system because of a projected budget shortfall. The program has not been cancelled – it is still on the books, and scheduled to begin delivering benefits to Washington’s families and children less than one year from now. Sadly for thousands of Washington families and children, the Governor’s decision makes it unlikely the program can start on time.
The Washington Family Leave Coalition and legislators were already gearing up to identify a funding source for paid family leave in the 2009 Legislature. When Washington’s governor and legislators arrive in Olympia next January, they will be making a host of important decisions about how best to protect our state’s families and children from the fallout of the national economic downturn.
State policy leaders and the Washington Family Leave Coalition have committed to bring a proposal for dedicated funding for Family Leave Insurance to the 2009 legislature. The proposal may include both a short-term plan to fund benefits in October 2009 as well as a longer-term plan. And it may include an expansion of benefits to care for seriously ill family members and a worker’s own serious illness.