Vermont Public is independent, community-supported media, serving Vermont with trusted, relevant and essential information. We share stories that bring people together, from every corner of our region. New to Vermont Public? Start here.

© 2024 Vermont Public | 365 Troy Ave. Colchester, VT 05446

Public Files:

For assistance accessing our public files, please contact or call 802-655-9451.
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Vermont Legislature
Follow VPR's statehouse coverage, featuring Pete Hirschfeld and Bob Kinzel in our Statehouse Bureau in Montpelier.

Vermont Republicans Take Aim At Push For $15 Minimum Wage

House Minority Leader Don Turner said he expects his Republican caucus to sustain the budget veto issued by Gov. Phil Scott last week. Democratic lawmakers are already planning to begin work on a new budget proposal, if the veto override vote fails.
Angela Evancie
VPR file
House Minority Leader Don Turner says House and Senate Republicans stand united in opposition against proposed legislation that would send the minimum wage in Vermont to $15 an hour.

The political battle lines are taking shape in what will likely be one of the more contentious policy debates of the 2018 legislative session.

On Thursday evening, during their annual pre-session caucus, Senate Democrats affirmed their commitment to passing a $15 minimum wage before the end the legislative biennium. While lawmakers have yet to determine how long the state should take to ramp up to the $15 threshold, Washington County Sen. Ann Cummings says there’s agreement that “$15 is really where we should be.”

“It’s the minimum of what’s required that would allow people to live on their wages,” said Cummings, the Democratic chairwoman of the Senate Finance Committee.

Senate Democrats will not surprisingly face stiff resistance to the proposal from their colleagues across the aisle. And on Thursday, House and Senate Republicans held a press event to formalize their opposition to the plan.

“We want to go on the record today … that we feel very strongly that that would be a mistake,” House Minority Leader Don Turner said Thursday. “Raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour would actually hurt Vermonters more than help them.”

"We're not an island. And in fact raising the minimum wage to $15 is a great economic stimulus package for the state of New Hampshire." — Republican Rep. Bob Bancroft

Republicans say the higher minimum wage would ripple across the Vermont economy in the form of job reductions, or reduced hours for fulltime employees. Rep. Bob Bancroft, from Westford, says the proposal would also compel employers to seek more business-friendly labor markets out of state.

“We’re not an island,” Bancroft says. “And in fact raising the minimum wage to $15 is a great economic stimulus package for the state of New Hampshire.”

Senate President Pro Tem Tim Ashe, who says passing the $15 minimum wage will be a “personal priority” for him next year, says the Republican “blowback” is predictable.

“You’ll always hear  … because some people will try to scare people, ‘Oh my god, they’re proposing to go to this extreme number tomorrow,’” Ashe said Thursday.

Ashe says that the Senate proposal will in fact phase the $15 wage in over time, thereby minimizing economic disruption. And Ashe says increasing the minimum wage is the single-most effective measure legislators can deploy to improve the financial lot of low-wage workers.

The Vermont Statehouse is often called the people’s house. I am your eyes and ears there. I keep a close eye on how legislation could affect your life; I also regularly speak to the people who write that legislation.
Latest Stories