Baker gets pressure on paid parental leave

Message received. Boston Mayor Marty Walsh, Attorney General Maura Healey, and state Treasurer Deb Goldberg are all offering employees paid parental leave, so now Gov. Charlie Baker is indicating that paid parental leave “is something worth looking at.”

Unpaid parental leave is an anachronism internationally, yet Americans were slow to come around even to that idea. The Family and Medical Leave Act that offers 12 weeks of unpaid leave to care for a newborn, adopted child, or foster child is only 22 years old and only applies to private employers with 50 or more workers.

Anyone who has cared for a newborn knows that 12 weeks is barely enough to recover from childbirth, much less master everything parents need to know about the care and feeding of an infant. Across the pond, the UK offers 39 weeks of paid leave for mothers; more embarrassing international parental leave data is here.

Baker has shared concerns about the costs of offering the benefit. “I want to make sure since we’re talking about taxpayer money here that any proposal that we make on this is one that’s affordable,” he said Tuesday.

Although Walsh told MassLive that he plans to keep tabs on the costs, he accentuated the positive for employers: Workers appreciate their employers more if they offer family-friendly benefits, intimating that a satisfied employee is one that is less likely to go off and look for a better deal elsewhere.

Going in with a coterie of liberal Democrats, even on an issue that generates strong support across party lines, is a delicate proposition for Baker. The moderate Republican will have to damp down the sniping from the party’s right flank and from the business community that he’s already getting.

Eileen McAnneny, head of Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation, has expressed reservations about expansion of paid parental leave policies, while Barbara Anderson of Citizens for Limited Taxation offers mixed reviews. She says she has no problem with paid parental leave, but worries that government officials don’t realize that jobs cost taxpayers and businesses more when additional benefits are tacked on.

Massachusetts likes to be in the vanguard of social change, but California, New Jersey, and Rhode Island are out in front with paid parental and medical leave laws on the books. Whether parental leave is the next social barrier to fall in the Bay State remains to be seen, but Walsh, Healey, and Goldberg have turned up the pressure on the governor.

–GABRIELLE GURLEY

 

BEACON HILL

State Auditor Suzanne Bump says the Massachusetts Medicaid program spent more than $500 million over five years paying for services that insurers were already providing or were willing to provide. (Boston Globe)

The Baker administration lured only 59 percent of the employees it wanted for its early retirement plan. Officials say layoffs are possible but should be minimal. (Boston Globe)

State Housing and Economic Development Secretary Jay Ash says Lynn is his No. 1 priority and urges city leaders to focus on commercial development and market-rate housing. (Item)

Massachusetts receives a one-year waiver from a federal health care requirement affecting small businesses. (Telegram & Gazette)

Inspector General Glenn Cunha says an assistant clerk magistrate at Middlesex District Court is under investigation for the mishandling of bail money. (Lowell Sun)

MUNICIPAL MATTERS

About 200 marchers descended on the site of last week’s killing of Jonathan Dos Santos in Dorchester to call for an end to the violence that claimed the 16-year-old’s life. (Boston Globe)

Marblehead passes an $8 million budget override to pay for the shutdown of the local landfill. (Salem News)

Waltham-based CTA Construction is winning a lot low bids for municipal work, but many of its customers are grumbling about the quality of service. A Lowell Sun editorial says the company shouldn’t be allowed to bid on new work until its past problems are corrected.

CASINOS

Could a paperwork issue block a proposed $1.8  billion casino in Everett? The city of Boston and Wynn Resorts battle over whether required documents were filed with the city in timely fashion. (CommonWealth)

New Bedford residents will not learn how much money is being spent on the pro-casino campaign until after next week’s vote because the group established by the developer was registered after the disclosure deadline. (Standard-Times)

OLYMPICS

Never mind overruns, Steve Pagliuca says Boston 2024 could end up with a surplus. Olympic skeptics howl in response. (Boston Herald)

Beach volleyball, which Olympic planners originally wanted to hold on Boston Common, may now be slated for a beach — in Quincy. (Boston Globe)

Boston 2024 to big donors: Keep it coming. (Boston Globe)

WASHINGTON/NATIONAL/INTERNATIONAL

Federal officials say computers that were hacked by the Chinese were too old to carry protective software. (Los Angeles Times)

US Rep. Joseph Kennedy, the youngest in the state’s congressional delegation, is also the richest, according to financial disclosures released by the House clerk’s office. (Herald News)

Farah Stockman offers an interesting and thoughtful take on the Rachel Dolezal brouhaha and all the issues of identity raised by it and by the Caitlyn Jenner story. (Boston Globe)

The mayor of South Bend, Indiana, comes out as gay in an op-ed in the local paper. (Mashable)

ELECTIONS

Republicans, who have been battling to repeal the Affordable Care Act since it was passed, are now worried that the Supreme Court could actually do the job for them in its upcoming ruling and Americans who lose their insurance could hold the GOP accountable at the polls. (New York Times)

The National Review is none too impressed by Donald Trump‘s entrance into the presidential race, as evidenced by this headline, which is the mildest part of the piece: “Witless Ape Rides Escalator.” Joe Battenfeld says Trump should be taken more seriously. Seriously. (Boston Herald) Neil Young tells Trump to stop using his song “Rockin’ in the Free World.” (Time)

RELIGION

A lawsuit claiming former Fall River Bishop Daniel Cronin failed to intervene when one of his priests molested several boys in the 1970s and 80s has been refiled in Massachusetts after Cronin agreed to transfer the case from Connecticut and travel here to testify. (Herald News)

BUSINESS/ECONOMY

Gov. Charlie Baker and top administration officials are no-shows at the biotech industry’s big annual convention being held in Philadelphia, a sharp contrast from past years when Gov. Deval Patrick made himself a steady presence at the annual gathering. (BostonGlobe)

EDUCATION

Bridgewater State University will rename its Institute for Social Justice after Martin Richard, the 8-year-old victim of the Boston Marathon bombings whose parents are alumni of the school. (The Enterprise)

Jonathan Kaufman, executive editor at Bloomberg News and former business reporter for the Boston Globe and Wall Street Journal, has been tapped to take over Northeastern’s School of Journalism, replacing Dan Kennedy who had been serving as interim director. (Media Nation)

The Salem State University Foundation paid Tom Brady $170,000 for his one-hour appearance at the state school last month. (Boston Globe)

HEALTH CARE

Essex District Attorney Jonathan Blodgett sees some progress in the heroin crisis. (Eagle-Tribune) An editorial in the Salem News, in the wake of a three-part series on the opioid crisis, asks how a problem that was well documented in 2001 spiraled out of control.

Boston Mayor Marty Walsh says he is interested in duplicating Gloucester’s angel program, which steers addicts who come to the police for help into treatment. (Gloucester Times) Boston developer John Rosenthal and Gloucester police chief Leonard Campanello form a nonprofit to raise money for the angel program. (Gloucester Times) So far, 17 people have asked for help. (WBUR)

Adjust your taste buds: The Food and Drug Administration has ordered food manufacturers to get rid of trans fats from all foods in three years. (U.S. News & World Report)

TRANSPORTATION

An audit says Keolis, the company hired to run the MBTA’s commuter rail system, lost nearly $10 million last year and is poised to lose even more this year. (Boston Globe)

Communities in five states, including Franklin in Massachusetts, are starting to charge parents for bus service. (Governing)

ENERGY/ENVIRONMENT

Big areas of Georges Bank will be reopened to fishing, to the delight of the industry and consternation of environmentalists. (Boston Globe)

CRIMINAL JUSTICE

In what may be a first in the nation, writes Peter Gelzinis, the Boston Police Academy will graduate an openly gay couple today, Jimmy Moccia and Shawn MacIver, who both scored 100 on the police civil service exam. (Boston Herald)

SPORTS

Say it ain’t so: The FBI is investigating charges that the St. Louis Cardinals hacked into the computers of one-time rival Houston Astros to steal closely guarded information about players and trades. (New York Times)