Minimum wage could receive automatic cost of living adjustment

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(Host) Legislation that would automatically increase the state minimum wage based on the consumer price index has cleared a hurdle in the Senate. On a unanimous vote, the Economic Development Committee gave its support to the bill.

Currently the state minimum wage rate is $7 an hour, while the federal rate is $5.15.

Under this bill, the state rate will be adjusted every two years to reflect changes in the consumer price index. It’s expected that this change will boost the state rate by 30 to 50 cents every 24 months. Windsor County Senator Matt Dunne strongly backed the bill:

(Dunne) “The minimum wage issue is something that comes up frequently and becomes a hot potato issue, a lot of fighting, a lot of time and political capital put into whether or not to raise it. What the COLA does is it allows for a cost of living increase each year so that the minimum wage keeps pace with inflation at a reasonable level allows for some predictability for employers to know what those wages are going to be year to year.”

(Host) The Vermont Retail Association opposed the legislation. John Klesch, the association’s director, has concerns that the legislation will hurt some of his members:

(Klesch) “We have the well-recognized costs of doing business in the state of Vermont coupled with the New Hampshire border and things like the Internet and other sources where it’s getting harder and harder for our retailers in the state to compete. And we supply a lot of jobs to the Vermont economy, and the more you continue to inject costs onto those folks the less jobs may be there at the end of the day.”

(Host) The full Senate is expected to vote on the minimum wage bill soon.

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