Thursday, June 12, 2014

Statement on the Passage of a Minimum Wage/UI Bill

Tonight I released the following statement following the passage of S.2195, “An Act restoring the minimum wage and providing unemployment insurance reforms, by a vote of 35-4:

“Today the Massachusetts State Senate passed a major increase to the state’s minimum wage rate, and although a wage increase was warranted, I fear that an increase of this magnitude will prove onerous to the economy and detrimental to small businesses throughout the Commonwealth by stifling job growth.  A survey conducted by the Massachusetts Chamber of Commerce found that 85% of businesses have reported that they will be negatively impacted by the increases to the minimum wage, and without careful consideration to assist employers, this bill will have done a great injustice to those who provide the necessary jobs that stabilize our local economies. The plan passed today is an example of taking one step forward, and several steps back in terms of competitiveness and job creation.

Rather than relying solely on a highest-in-the-nation minimum wage increase, which can’t effectively lift families out of poverty, Senate Republicans have consistently advanced a carefully crafted plan.  The Minority Party offered, quite simply, a better plan.  A plan that did not focus on Massachusetts having the highest minimum wage in the nation, but a plan that would have eased the burden of higher business expenses with a balanced and fair approach to encourage job growth and generate economic competitiveness that would have assisted the 750,000 residents currently living in households below the federal poverty threshold; sadly, the Senate chose a different path.  Highlights of the Senate Republican plan include:

·         Doubling the anti-poverty and work incentive program called the Earned Income Tax Credit from 15% to 30%;

·         Providing incentives to employers who provide low wage earners with health insurance;

·         Increasing the minimum wage from $8 to as much as $9.50 in two years; and

·         Requiring the Secretary of Labor and Workforce Development to recommend appropriate minimum wage rates following a review of their effectiveness in helping low wage workers and impact on job creation and economic competitiveness.

Although, the legislature has missed a prime opportunity for a balanced and comprehensive approach to help low-wage earners without jeopardizing the jobs they need, the Senate Republican Caucus will continue to fight for measures that will benefit all of the state’s citizenry rather than pitting some against others, and will continue to fight for productive measures to help those who work every day and continue to struggle with poverty.”