Letter: House GOP supports minimum wage bill veto
To the Editor:
Approximately 15 years ago to the day, then-Senator Scott — along with many legislative Republicans — voted for a compromise to raise Vermont's minimum wage and tie future annual increases to inflation. This legislation was signed into law by Governor Douglas. Since that time, Vermont's minimum wage has been adjusted upwards each year, currently sitting at $10.96 per hour, well above the federal minimum wage of $7.25. A further wage hike occurred in 2014 above the annual inflationary increases.
Republicans have expressed concerns about yet another increase and its potential to raise the cost of doing business, hike consumer prices, cut employee hours and jobs, hurt nonprofits, increase the cost of government, exacerbate regional economic divides, reduce our competitiveness with New Hampshire, harm those on fixed incomes, and throw thousands off the "benefits cliff." Economists have concluded the costs associated with a significant minimum wage hike would offset the benefits.
These adverse consequences would leave thousands worse off and further deepen the economic divide within our state. Mom and pop shops which are the anchors of our regional town centers in rural areas would be unduly burdened compared with more prosperous areas that could absorb the wage hike. Other states recognize this--for example, New York has phased-in its minimum wage hike on a regional basis.
Further, we know alternatives to keep more money in Vermonters' pockets exist. Targeted tax relief and expanding the Earned Income Tax Credits are just a few ideas as to how we can support working Vermonters.
For these reasons, the Vermont House Republican Caucus stand behind the Governor's veto of S.23. We recognize the difficulty of this decision, but are hopeful that, moving forward, the Legislative majority will work with us and the governor to address the high cost of living coupled with a stagnant workforce and sharp regional economic divides. In the remaining months of the session, we look forward to advancing a pro-affordability, pro-growth agenda that will support all Vermonters.
The writer is the minority leader of the Vermont House.
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