At this point, it doesn't make any sense to argue about the merits of state-mandated paid family leave for new parents.
The truth is that there is no money to pay for a program that lawmakers approved in 2007 without any idea about how or when it would be funded, and it's now obvious to all but its most stubborn supporters that it's time to take the law off the books.
The state Senate Committee on Commerce & Labor heard testimony Monday on a bill that would do exactly that.
Senate Bill 5159, sponsored by Sen. John Braun, R-Centralia, would simply repeal the unfunded, never-implemented family leave insurance program.
Braun told committee members that the idea for the program, which sought to give parents five weeks paid time off work to be with a new child, was the result of "good intentions," but added "we should stop fooling around with something we don't ever plan to properly fund."
Kris Tefft, AWB's general counsel and government affairs director for human resources, testified in support of the bill, saying the failure to fund the program was a de facto repeal.
"I think it's notable that the Legislature in 2007 lacked the political will to find a funding source or even an agency to implement this program," Tefft said.
Two years later, when the program was supposed to take effect, lawmakers "hit the snooze button," Tefft said, by delaying its start until 2011.
Finally, with the release of Gov. Chris Gregoire's proposed 2013-15 budget, it appears, Tefft said, that lawmakers have "simply unplugged the alarm clock" until some later, unspecified date when they hope money will materialize.
Opponents of the bill shared heart-rending accounts of parents taking time off work to care for ill children. But the fact is, none of them actually benefited from the family leave program that's addressed in SB 5159 because it has never gone into effect.
There is literally no end to the number of things it would be nice to fund. Lawmakers must deal in reality - a reality in which, unfortunately, resources are not infinite.
KOMO News/Associated Press: Dueling bills introduced on paid family leave law