It’s being reported by The Denver Post and discussed at the Capitol that Senate Bill 188, which would have created a mandatory state-run family and medical insurance program funded through a $2 billion payroll tax on employers and employees, will be amended into a study.
Defeating this bill was a top priority for the Chamber because of our concerns that this costly proposed program hasn’t been actuarially studied, putting the financial futures of the millions of Coloradans who would rely on it at risk. Rather than rely on market solutions, the proposed program would have created a $2 billion enterprise with hundreds of new employees that didn’t align with federal leave programs, forcing employers to navigate a complex and costly new system. Funded through a payroll tax, of which 60 percent would fall to employees, the program put at risk existing benefit programs for our members and their teams, many of whom have better benefits today.
Chamber staff and our members testified against the proposed program multiple times, expressing their concern with this one-size-fits-all approach. Small businesses, many of whom work with employees on custom leave packages, were particularly concerned with the requirements of the bill and lack of flexibility. The Chamber also participated in a stakeholder process with bill sponsors and clearly expressed our concerns and desire for a study or veto from Governor Polis, who shared concerns about funding the program. Chamber members also sent over 100 emails to legislators, calling on them to make changes to the legislation.
Senators Faith Winter and Angela Williams will introduce new language that creates a 14-member task of business leaders, workers and economists to be appointed by the governor and legislative leaders to study the soundness of a state-run program and examine feasibility of having an outside organization run portions of it. We’re encouraged by these changes, which affirm that when you stand by substantive feedback and unite in one message, legislators will listen. We’re grateful to Senators Winter and William for offering these amendments.