Public Assets Institute > Policy Areas > Family Economic Security > 40,000 Vermonters need a raise now

40,000 Vermonters need a raise now

Yesterday, the governor vetoed the Legislature’s proposed minimum wage increase. The bill would raise the wage to $11.75 an hour in 2021 and again in 2022 to $12.55, from the current wage of $10.96. While the bill falls short of the most ambitious plans passed by the Legislature in recent years, it’s a big step forward for working Vermonters, and it should be enacted.

Increasing the minimum wage is one of the Legislature’s top priorities this year and one of the first bills it tackled this session.

This is the second time that Gov. Phil Scott has rejected a minimum wage increase. In 2018, he vetoed the Legislature’s plan to raise the wage to $15 by 2024.

To make Vermont competitive in New England and the country, we need to pay higher wages. Our State of Working Vermont 2019 report shows the annual average wage in Vermont was 82 percent of the U.S. average in 2018 and lower than all the New England states but Maine. Additionally, the report shows that wages at the bottom of the scale are growing more slowly than at the high end. 

Low wages create the affordability problem that tens of thousands of Vermonters face. Raising the minimum wage as proposed by the Legislature begins to enable workers to pay for health care, housing, child care, and their other basic needs.

Left alone, the minimum wage would grow only by inflation. It would reach $15 an hour by about 2034—14 years from now. The Legislature’s modest plan would put the state on track to reach a $15 minimum in 10 years. 

This is hardly a radical proposal, but it’s a step in the right direction—a step that 40,000 low-wage workers need their elected representatives to take. Since the governor is not willing to lead on this one, the Legislature should override his veto and enact this pay increase for Vermonters.


Posted by Stephanie Yu on February 11, 2020 at 2:11 pm

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