Do not buy scare tales about new go away law | Opinion

Edwin Zoe

Edwin Zoe

Last November, Colorado voters made history when we voted overwhelmingly to approve Paid Family and Medical Leave (PFML). As a lifelong financial conservative and small business owner, I was concerned about the potential impact on my company and my employees. However, by participating as a member of the Colorado Family and Medical Insurance Task Force 2019-2020, I have learned what is real about PFML and I support it.

Let me start by saying that as I get older, I am less interested in the perpetual debate between liberals and conservatives about large and small governments. What interests me is smart government. This means that a government knows that it must step back when the free market is working and that it can step forward when the free market is not doing the public good. In this sense, providing a safety net from homelessness and financial ruin for low-wage workers to support themselves or their loved ones during family or sick leave is a public good that the free market has not made available. The fact is, over 80% of Colorado workers do not have PFML. That number is certainly even higher for the low-wage workers who need them most. This means that many low-wage workers are faced with the very real and difficult decision of going to work to pay rent or staying home to care for their loved ones.

During my tenure on the task force, which was represented by blue-collar workers, small businesses, large corporations, liberals, conservatives, and economists, we commissioned several non-partisan studies and an actuarial study. We also had heated debates on virtually every aspect of PFML. In the end, the task force made recommendations that formed the basis for Prop 118. In fact, the maximum benefit of 12 weeks is in the middle of the range between eight weeks that businesses supported and 16 weeks that the worker wanted. It is simply not true for opponents to call PFML the work of the Liberals. We were all around the table and the voters have spoken that Colorado will join the eight other states (interestingly, five of these states have the highest GDP per capita in the US) and almost all countries with advanced economies to provide PFML.

As I read persistent criticism of PFML, I am reminded of funny sayings like that train left the station, the bus left the terminal, the horse left the barn, the moose loose, and so on. Furthermore, I am bothered by the perverse logic of the opposition’s concerns. To me, many of these concerns are insincere at best. One such problem is its negative impact on small businesses. In the decades I’ve been a small business owner, adversaries have never offered a reasonable solution to provide affordable PFML to my employees. Now that PFML is real, I can offer this benefit to my employees at a very reasonable cost. How sensible could you ask? For my company, it costs less than 15 cents for every $ 100 of sales. We spend so much on paper. This gives me a level playing field for recruiting and retaining quality workers against large companies that offer this advantage on a large scale. For small businesses with fewer than 10 employees, it doesn’t cost anything.

Another insincere concern of the opposition is low-wage workers. What’s real for low-wage workers is that it costs 45 cents for every $ 100 of income. PFML protects low-wage workers from financial devastation when they spend less than two-quarters in parking meters for a day. These were costs that were supported by the working groups themselves.

Since the pandemic crisis, the opposition has used “timing out of time” as another reason against PFML. The fact is that PFML won’t be implemented until 2024. In fact, if PFML had been present during this crisis, it would have helped many workers and their loved ones affected by COVID-19. I don’t think there would ever be a right time for the opposition to support PFML. If it had, the opposition would have already done so in 2018-2019, when Colorado’s economy was booming and rated as one of the best in the nation.

Instead of the tired Chicken Little rhetoric falling from the sky, I urge my Conservative colleagues to take a step forward and work towards real improvement in PFML, such as providing adequate exemption for key employees to make it one for low wage workers and small businesses Represents a win-win situation. Let’s keep it real

Edwin Zoe is the owner of the Zoe Ma Ma and Chimera Ramen restaurants in Boulder and Denver. He is a founding member of Good Business Colorado and a member of the Colorado Paid Family and Medical Leave Task Force for 2019-2020.

Comments are closed.