Kansas Treasurer Lynn Rogers joins colleagues in calling for paid family leave

Treasurer Lynn Rogers, (D)
Treasurer Lynn Rogers, (D)(Kansas Treasurer's Office)
Published: Apr. 21, 2021 at 3:06 PM CDT
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TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - A group of state treasurers gathered for a conversation via Zoom Wednesday morning to promote President Joe Biden’s American Families Plan which he’s set to announce soon. Kansas Treasurer Lynn Rogers participated. Their specific focus was to tout what they believe to be an urgent need for paid family leave at the federal level. States like Washington and California already have state-mandated, paid family leave. However, the group collectively agreed that federal legislation is needed.

The conversation was sponsored by the group Paid Leave for the United States, or PL+US. Learn more about them at www.paidleave.us

According to Treasurer Rogers, a federal law will level the playing field across all U.S. states. His concern is that as states around Kansas may consider and pass state legislation, it could leave the Sunflower State at a significant disadvantage in recruiting and retaining a strong workforce.

Rogers talked about the fact that Kansas does not have a paid family or medical leave program. He says it will put Kansas businesses at a disadvantage as other states begin to consider or implement programs of their own. Rogers says it will hurt their ability to not only recruit but also retain workers. The Kansas treasurer believes that a federal program would “make for a level-playing field” and also prevent a hodge-podge of regulations across the country. Rogers insists it will make the state more competitive.

Wisconson Treasurer, Sarah Godlewski, noted that some 80% of American workers do not have access to paid family leave. She that we must build a “modern, 21st century economy.” Godlewski said that “Paid family should not be a luxury; it’s a must-have because we care about families and also the economy.” She told those on the call that there must be flexibility.

“It [paid family leave] reduces dependence on state social services because it allow people to take care of themselves,” Kansas Treasurer Lynn Rogers said.

Rogers spoke of his own children and their spouses, saying it’s a constant juggle of who’s going to take off [with his grandchildren], what time do they have, and how much--but at least they have time to take. He says that it’s important for meat packing workers and others that are “vital to the Kansas economy.”

Pointing to the pandemic, the treasurers noted that many people literally had to leave their jobs to care for family members--they did not have leave to take. New federal legislation would allow people to take a leave of abscence but still keep their jobs long term. The see it as allowing companies to retain valuable employees who are already trained and have experience rather than being forced to hire and train someone new.

Asked by 13 News, Rogers says he’s not spoken with Gov. Laura Kelly about this particular topic, however he believes she would be supportive. He says paid family leave would be a great economic tool for the state--and according to him, economic development is very important to the Governor. He says that the Kelly administration has generated nearly $2.5 billion in new business; and “those are businesses that want to take care of their employees, I think,” he said.

Washington state’s treasurer, Mike Pelliciotti, says paid family leave is an improtant part of economic recovery post-pandemic. He believes it encourages people to stay in their jobs. According to him, paid family leave is already working in his homestate.

“It’s not fair that some are able to leave their jobs to take care of life events and then come back,” he said. Meanwhile others have to leave their jobs, love them, and be forced out of the workforce altogether.

California too has paid family leave, of which, Treasurer Fiona Ma is a big proponent. She pointed out that family leave and sick leave are critical; after all, when you’re sick and still show up for work, you infect those around you. That’s particularly concerning for those who work in the healthcare field and interact closely with patients.

Click here to see what states currently have paid family leave--and which ones don’t.

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