Posted on VT Digger, 3/22/17
While a push to raise Vermont’s minimum wage likely won’t go anywhere this year, lawmakers and advocates are laying the groundwork now for legislation that would significant increase in the rate in the second half of the biennium.
There are practical reasons for a delay in moving forward. Senate President Pro Tem Tim Ashe told reporters that lawmakers need better information about how an increase would impact the benefits cliff for people who participate in the state’s welfare to work program, known as Reach Up.
And then there is the political reality. Liberal Democrats and Progressives are touting a $15 per hour rate as an anti-poverty measure. And they’d like to sell it to their more conservative counterparts as a boon to the economy. Republicans, on the other hand, see the wage boost as a hit on small businesses. Gov. Phil Scott has said he would oppose an increase in the minimum wage.
Vermont raised the minimum wage to $10 on Jan. 1. The state is tied with Arizona for the fifth-highest minimum wage in the nation. The rate will go up to $10.50 in 2018. After that, the wage will be tied to inflation, based on COLA, or cost of living adjustment increases.
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