House passes minimum wage hike with inflation booster

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House passes minimum wage hike with inflation booster

Wed, 05/15/2019 - 6:09pm -- Anonymous

Vermont Business Magazine On Wednesday, the Vermont House voted in favor of S.23, the Minimum Wage bill on a vote of 90 - 53. The amended House version would increase the minimum wage by 2.25 times the inflation rate. The original Senate version called for a minimum wage of $15 an hour starting on January 1, 2024. However, the House inflation-based (Consumer Price Index) bill would achieve $15 an hour, at current inflation levels, in about seven years. The just-released US CPI now stands at 2.0 percent, up one-tenth from year-end 2018. The Vermont minimum wage is now $10.78, up 2.7 percent from 2018's $10.50. If the CPI stays at 2 percent, the next hike would be 4.5 percent, or $11.26 for 2020. It would reach $15 an hour (about $15.30) in 2027 at its current pace.

“Increasing the minimum wage for hard-working Vermonters is critical,” said House General, Housing, & Military Affairs Committee Chair, Representative Tom Stevens (D-Waterbury). “A strong Vermont economy starts with decent wages for workers. When Vermonters have more money in their pockets, working families have more to invest back into our local economy. This grows jobs and economic opportunity across Vermont. Improving the incomes of working families and the middle-class is a top priority in the House. Working families are the foundation of a strong Vermont economy and thriving communities across the state.”

Representative Matthew Trieber (D-Rockingham) presented the House Committee on Appropriations report on the bill, adding, “currently, the federal minimum wage is $7.25 and Vermont’s minimum wage is $10.78. If no action is taken, the projected minimum wage in Vermont wouldn’t reach $15 an hour until the mid-2030s. Beginning in 2020, the bill approved by the House today increases wages annually by 2.25 times the inflation rate (Consumer Price Index), increasing the minimum wage at a much faster rate. This puts more money in Vermonters’ pockets and more money back into the Vermont economy. The annual wage growth in this bill will occur unless there is a major economic downturn, giving Vermonters a much-needed raise, and giving Vermont businesses a backstop in times of economic uncertainty.”

“Increasing Vermonters wages is an economic imperative and an issue of gender equity,” added House Speaker Mitzi Johnson (D-South Hero). “More women than men are working in minimum wage jobs. We know that nationally, women make up two-thirds of all minimum wage and tipped wage workers, and many are single parents. Vermont workers need a raise and this bill accomplishes that goal in a modest way that makes considerations for shifts in the economy that disproportionately impact Vermont small businesses. The bottom line is, we want a Vermont that works for all of us, not just the select few, and this bill moves us toward that goal.”

Other legislators explained their votes.

Rep. Colburn of Burlington explained her vote as follows:

“Madam Speaker: I voted against amendments to dilute a minimum wage increase and for amendments to get us to a livable wage sooner. At the end of the day, I can’t oppose a wage increase that is an improvement on current law. That said, we can and should do better than this for working Vermonters. This work is not over.”

Rep. Krowinski of Burlington explained her vote as follows:

“Madam Speaker: I vote yes. When Vermonters have more money in their pockets, working families have more to invest back into our local economy, growing jobs and creating economic opportunity in all of Vermont’s 14 counties. Raising the minimum wage will help us grow an economy that works for everyone, not just a select few.”

Rep. Leffler of Enosburgh explained her vote as follows:

“Madam Speaker: I voted against this bill because I refuse to ignore the harm implicit in this bill to our small towns and small businesses and most importantly Vermonters. If, as previously mentioned today, it is the will of this body to have money in Vermonters’ pockets, I seriously suggest we start by leaving the money already there alone.”

Rep. Ode of Burlington explained her vote as follows:

“Madam Speaker: Raising the minimum wage will help lift tens of thousands of working Vermonters out of poverty. It will result in increased income tax revenue for the State of Vermont and it will reduce dependency on state programs that support low income families. Raising the minimum wage is good for Vermont’s workers, Vermont’s families, Vermont’s businesses (helping to prevent expensive employee turnover), and Vermont’s economy.”

Rep. Ralph of Hartland explained his vote as follows:

“Madam Speaker: I support minimum wage and am willing to take the risks associated with a wage hike on our economy and businesses because I strongly support all efforts to bring Vermonters out of poverty and to provide an adequate income. However I cannot support this bill because with it brings all the risks but doesn’t actually mandate a livable wage in a timely fashion that could help Vermonters. As a result I am afraid this bill as is will hurt Vermonters and the Vermont economy. I’m frustrated that we would let political victories supersede the best interests of our state.”

Rep. Sullivan of Dorset explained her vote as follows:

“Madam Speaker: Some of the biggest beneficiaries of minimum wage increases are children. Higher wages ease the grind of poverty, freeing up people’s capacity to quit. While a higher minimum wage is powerful medicine, raining the minimum wage might only be a temporary fix, so I would like to see the future discussions go to focusing on minimum income instead.”

Rep. White of Hartford explained her vote as follows:

“Madam Speaker: More women than men are working minimum wage jobs – nationally women make up two-thirds of all minimum wage earners. Raising women’s wages would have positive impacts on Vermont’s economy and move us towards closing the wage gap which would reduce the poverty rate. I vote yes because it is the pragmatic and moral choice.”

Rep. Wood of Waterbury explained her vote as follows:

“Madam Speaker: I am supportive of a minimum wage increase, but not at the expense of older Vermonters and people with disabilities. We must keep the promise to address the Medicaid rates.”

Of several changes offered and failed (21-121) was one amendment that would increase wages for Medicaid providers:  


On or before December 1, 2019, the Secretary of Human Services, in consultation with the Joint Fiscal Office and relevant service providers, shall submit a written report to the House Committees on Appropriations, on General, Housing, and Military Affairs, on Health Care, and on Human Services and the Senate Committees on Appropriations, on Economic Development, Housing and General Affairs, and on Health and Welfare regarding the projected costs for fiscal years 2021, 2022, 2023, and 2024 of increasing Medicaid reimbursement rates to all Medicaid participating providers, including designated agencies, specialized service agencies, home health agencies, nursing homes, residential care homes, assisted living residences, and adult day agencies, by an amount necessary to facilitate the payment of wages to their employees who are providing services pursuant to the State Medicaid Program that are equal to at least the minimum wage set forth in 21 V.S.A. § 384 and to mitigate wage compression for employees providing services pursuant to the State Medicaid Program who are in occupations with a starting wage rate within $1.00 of the minimum wage.  

Comments for that amendment were:

Rep. Cordes of Lincoln explained her vote as follows:

“Madam Speaker: Minimum wage is a women’s issue. The majority of Medicaid service caregivers are women who are still struggling with pay inequity. ‘It’ll be the year 3888 before [women] make a buck.’ (Laurie Anderson - ‘Beautiful Red Dress’) Minimum wage is a dignity issue. Many of our friends, including those in our own State House who serve us food, need food stamps to make ends meet. Raising the minimum wage as soon as possible is just one imperative step we must take to lift up the vulnerable, improve our economy, and reverse the ever-widening income and wealth gap.”

Rep. Hooper of Burlington explained his vote as follows:

“Madam Speaker: I support putting money in Vermonters pockets. Clearly trickle down does not work. The largest employer in the state has a $15 hiring rate in 2020. This will be an economic boost for Chittenden County businesses large and small. It will happen next year so to my mind this body delaying full implementation so much longer is ill advised.”

Rep. Yantachka of Charlotte explained his vote as follows:

“Madam Speaker: Every Vermonter who works 40 hours per week deserves to be paid enough to pay the rent, heat their home, feed and clothe their family, and get to and from work. They deserve a livable wage today, not by 2024 or 2026. I support what this amendment is trying to do. However, we live within the reality of this building, and, based on what we're hearing from the Governor, adopting this amendment will likely prevent any increase in the minimum wage from becoming law. So, as much as I would like to vote YES on this amendment, I have to vote NO to improve our chances to get more money into the pockets of those at the bottom of the pay scale sooner than later.”

Third Reading Vote:

Those who voted in the affirmative are:
Ancel of Calais
Anthony of Barre City
Austin of Colchester
Bartholomew of Hartland
Bates of Bennington
Birong of Vergennes
Bock of Chester
Briglin of Thetford
Brownell of Pownal
Brumsted of Shelburne
Burke of Brattleboro
Campbell of St. Johnsbury
Carroll of Bennington
Chase of Colchester
Chesnut-Tangerman of
Middletown Springs
Christensen of Weathersfield
Christie of Hartford
Cina of Burlington
Coffey of Guilford
Colburn of Burlington *
Colston of Winooski
Conlon of Cornwall
Conquest of Newbury
Copeland-Hanzas of
Corcoran of Bennington
Cordes of Lincoln
Demrow of Corinth
Dolan of Waitsfield
Donovan of Burlington
Durfee of Shaftsbury
Elder of Starksboro
Emmons of Springfield
Gardner of Richmond
Giambatista of Essex
Grad of Moretown
Haas of Rochester
Hashim of Dummerston
Hill of Wolcott
Hooper of Montpelier
Hooper of Randolph
Hooper of Burlington
Houghton of Essex
Howard of Rutland City
James of Manchester
Jerome of Brandon
Jessup of Middlesex
Jickling of Randolph
Killacky of South Burlington
Kitzmiller of Montpelier
Kornheiser of Brattleboro
Krowinski of Burlington *
LaLonde of South
Lanpher of Vergennes
Lippert of Hinesburg
Long of Newfane
Macaig of Williston
Masland of Thetford
McCarthy of St. Albans City
McCormack of Burlington
McCullough of Williston
Mrowicki of Putney
Nicoll of Ludlow
O'Brien of Tunbridge
Ode of Burlington *
O'Sullivan of Burlington
Partridge of Windham
Patt of Worcester
Potter of Clarendon
Pugh of South Burlington
Rachelson of Burlington
Redmond of Essex
Scheu of Middlebury
Sheldon of Middlebury
Squirrell of Underhill
Stevens of Waterbury
Sullivan of Dorset *
Sullivan of Burlington
Szott of Barnard
Taylor of Colchester
Till of Jericho
Toleno of Brattleboro
Toll of Danville
Townsend of South Burlington
Trieber of Rockingham
Troiano of Stannard
Walz of Barre City
Webb of Shelburne
White of Hartford *
Yacovone of Morristown
Yantachka of Charlotte

Those who voted in the negative are:
Bancroft of Westford
Batchelor of Derby
Beck of St. Johnsbury
Brennan of Colchester
Helm of Fair Haven
Higley of Lowell
LaClair of Barre Town
Lefebvre of Newark
Pajala of Londonderry
Palasik of Milton
Quimby of Concord
Ralph of Hartland *

Browning of Arlington
Burditt of West Rutland
Canfield of Fair Haven
Cupoli of Rutland City
Donahue of Northfield
Fagan of Rutland City
Fegard of Berkshire
Feltus of Lyndon
Gamache of Swanton
Goslant of Northfield
Graham of Williamstown
Gregoire of Fairfield
Hango of Berkshire
Harrison of Chittenden
Leffler of Enosburgh *
Marcotte of Coventry
Martel of Waterford
Mattos of Milton
McCoy of Poultney
McFaun of Barre Town
Morgan of Milton
Morrissey of Bennington
Murphy of Fairfax
Myers of Essex
Norris of Shoreham
Notte of Rutland City
Noyes of Wolcott
Page of Newport City
Rogers of Waterville
Rosenquist of Georgia
Savage of Swanton
Scheuermann of Stowe
Seymour of Sutton
Shaw of Pittsford
Smith of Derby
Smith of New Haven
Strong of Albany
Terenzini of Rutland Town
Toof of St. Albans Town
Wood of Waterbury *
Young of Greensboro

Those members absent with leave of the House and not voting are:
Dickinson of St. Albans Town
Gannon of Wilmington
Gonzalez of Winooski
Kimbell of Woodstock
Sibilia of Dover