Gillibrand Says Sununu’s Family Leave Plan 'Isn’t Going To Solve The Problem'

Apr 7, 2019

New York senator and 2020 presidential candidate Kirsten Gillibrand, left, and Amanda Sears of the Campaign for a Family Friendly Economy discuss paid family leave in Laconia Saturday.
Credit Annie Ropeik / NHPR

Presidential candidate Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand criticized Gov. Chris Sununu Saturday for his plan to veto a family medical leave proposal backed by Democrats in the New Hampshire Legislature. 

The New York senator was on a panel in Laconia with advocates for what’s known as Senate Bill 1. It would fund family and medical leave for New Hampshire workers through a payroll tax. 

Sununu and other Republicans in Concord oppose the plan, saying it amounts to an income tax. Instead, Sununu has said he wants to let businesses voluntarily join a new private leave plan for state employees. 

After hearing stories from two New Hampshire mothers who’ve had to get creative to care for hospitalized children due to a lack of paid leave, Gillibrand said she thinks Sununu’s position shows a lack of vision and leadership.

“You have a governor who doesn’t care – a governor who clearly wants to put a label on something and say he’s doing something but actually isn’t going to solve the problem,” she said.

In Congress, Gillibrand has pushed for a national “earned” family leave program that's similar to New Hampshire Democrats’ framework. She says Sununu’s model wouldn’t work economically because it requires voluntary buy-in from private businesses.

Amanda Sears of the Campaign for a Family Friendly Economy, which organized Saturday’s panel, says it means a lot for a presidential candidate to listen to locals’ personal stories and weigh in on the state-level debate at this moment.

“It’s impressive, it’s powerful, and I’m so thankful that she’s elevating this set of issues on the national stage,” Sears said.

The state House and Senate have both passed Senate Bill 1, though not with enough votes to guarantee they could overcome an anticipated gubernatorial veto later this year.