SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

Local News

March 21, 2014

Local lawmakers favor lower minimum-wage hike

(Continued)

“It is disappointing that the Senate is playing parliamentary politics with an issue that is so fundamentally important to workers,” Conroy said. “This is insider, petty, politics at its very worst, and it’s happening at the expense of working families in Massachusetts.”

Echoing a refrain from North Shore business leaders, state Rep. John Keenan, D-Salem, said he likes the “lower and slower” approach in the House to a state minimum wage hike, while at the same time reforming the state’s unemployment insurance in an effort to reduce the burden on businesses.

Another House bill calls for unemployment insurance contribution rates to be based on an average payroll over three years instead of one, according to The State House News Service.

“From what we’ve seen and what we are expecting, the approach is much more moderate, and that balanced approach in this economy is the approach we should take,” he said.

Speliotis, chairman of the House Committee on Bills in the Third Reading, said the three-year average would avoid harming a business that might see a major layoff in one year, stretching out the impact over three years.

State Rep. Brad Hill, R-Ipswich, said he was glad the minimum wage hike being proposed in the House was not as large as the Senate’s, but more could be done to fix the cost of unemployment insurance so small businesses are not forced to move out of state.

“I think we can go a little further,” Hill said, adding that the Republican caucus plans to sit down and discuss the legislation.

The minimum-wage bill comes with concessions, Speliotis said. There is no teen minimum wage, as the business community wanted. Minimum-wage hike proponents favor indexing the rate to inflation.

Minority Leader Rep. Brad Jones, R-North Reading, issued a statement on March 13 suggesting that he favors the speaker’s version but also criticizing DeLeo for not including tax breaks or a plan for dealing with unemployment insurance, which is set to increase dramatically this summer.

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