Evers defends Wisconsin paid leave plan criticized by GOP

Democratic Gov. Tony Evers said Thursday that Republicans in control of the Wisconsin Legislature should be open to his idea of funding a new three-month family leave program covering most private-sector workers, arguing that it would help with recruitment and retainment efforts, according to a report from the Associated Press.

Senate Majority Leader Devin LeMahieu said Wednesday that it was “very doubtful” Republicans would support Evers’ plan, which comes with a price tag of $240 million in state funding to launch in 2025. Employer and employee contributions would fund the initiative after the first year.

Republican leaders have said they want to pass policies that will recruit and retain more workers in the state, but they hope to do that primarily by moving to a flat income tax rate — a move that Evers has promised to veto.

LeMahieu said Wednesday that Wisconsin’s family and leave laws are already “above and beyond what the federal standard is.” But that’s not the case in most scenarios. Federal law offers Wisconsin workers up to 12 weeks of leave each year, as opposed to an eight-week maximum under state law.

According to the Bipartisan Policy Center, 13 states have enacted paid family leave laws.