Hillary has always put women and children first, which is reflected in her plan to help West Virginia parents. Here’s a plan sent out in the morning briefing. Actually, it’s my abridged version without the Mothers’ Day intro, containing a few edited out Hillaries and more compound sentences than the original. I took the liberty to condense it, so you might actually read it, and do so without a bunch of ellipses breaking it up. It’s still darn long, so kudos if you can get through it. The point is, she is thinking about this, has fleshed out her ideas which are based in compassion, and has some proposed solutions. (I’ll link to a full version if they post one on the HRC website.)
Hillary’s Plan to Help West Virginia Parents Balance Work and Family
. . . These days, more and more families are headed by two working parents, and today’s parents work longer hours than ever before. As a result, American parents have 22 fewer hours a week to spend with their kids than they did in 1969. A 2002 report by the Families and Work Institute found that 45 percent of employees say that work and family responsibilities interfere with each other and that 67 percent of working parents say they do not have enough time with their children.
. . . [The plan] will work in partnership with America’s businesses to ensure that pro-family work policies and increasing workplace flexibility helps improve American competitiveness and economic growth. Hillary’s work-family agenda includes:
A New $3,000 Caregiving Tax Credit. A new $3,000 Caregiving Tax Credit to any person with substantial long-term care needs or to their caregivers. On average, unpaid caregivers pay more than $5,000 in out-of-pocket costs. The credit would be available directly to any individuals with substantial long-term care needs or their caregivers and would provide generous new assistance to at least 29,000 West Virginia residents [CRS, 2007; Census 2007].
A New Long-Term Care Insurance Tax Credit. A new tax credit to help those planning for their long-term care needs afford high-quality insurance policies that are right for them; will cover 75 percent of long-term care insurance premiums up to $1,500 per year for qualified long-term care insurance policies that meet strong new consumer protection requirements; will reward middle-class families that take steps to prepare for their long-term care needs; would benefit at least 73,000 seniors and near-retirees in West Virginia [www.ahipresearch.org (p. 27)].
Paid Family Leave. Expand the Family Medical Leave Act to cover employers with 25 or more workers, a change that will provide legal protection for unpaid leave to 13 million additional workers; will also create a State Family Leave Innovation Fund to support the establishment and expansion of state-level leave programs for new parents and those caring for their aging parents. She will ensure that every state has a paid leave program by 2016. In West Virginia, this proposal could impact many of the more than 490,000 private-sector workers who do not have paid family leave [Institute for Women’s Policy Research].
Equal Pay for Equal Work. Today, American women earn just $.77 for every dollar men earn. African American women earn .68 cents and Hispanic women earn only .57 cents for every dollar men earn. On average, the wage gap costs families $4,000 a year. As one of 16 female U.S. Senators, Hillary has championed this issue. She introduced the Paycheck Fairness Act, which would toughen the penalties associated with violating the Equal Pay Act; strengthen the ability of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission to crackdown on equal pay violations; prohibit employers from retaliating against employees who share their salary information with their co-workers; reward model employers; and more. In West Virginia, women who work full time earn 76.2 percent of what men earn [Institute for Women’s Policy Research].
Seven Guaranteed Sick Days for Full Time Workers. Forty-one percent of all workers in West Virginia do not have sick leave. These workers must go to work sick or forgo pay when they become unexpectedly ill. Hillary will ensure that every full-time worker has access to 7 sick days. Part time workers will receive a proportional share. Hillary’s policy would impact the more than 280,000 workers in West Virginia without access to sick leave [National Partnership for Women & Families].
Increased Funding for Child Care. Hillary has worked to expand access and improve quality of child care in our country for decades. The Bush Administration has essentially frozen the level of child care funding for the last eight years. As a result, the real purchasing power of child care subsidies has fallen significantly. According to the Bush Administration’s own estimates, 300,000 children will lose child care assistance by 2010, and 150,000 have already lost child care assistance since 2000. Hillary believes we need to increase child care funding through the Child Care and Development Block Grant and return the program to it’s original intent: to serve working families. Hillary’s policy would help the 64,000 children under six in West Virginia who need child care [National Association of Child Care Resource and Referral Agencies].