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Vermont Minimum Wage Set To Rise After House Overrides Scott Veto

On Tuesday, the Vermont House successfully overrode Gov. Phil Scott's veto on a bill raising the minimum wage.
Elodie Reed
VPR File
On Tuesday, the Vermont House successfully overrode Gov. Phil Scott's veto on a bill raising the minimum wage.

Updated 3 p.m.

Vermont's minimum wage is set to rise over the next two years after the House voted Tuesday to override Gov. Phil Scott's veto.

The House's override succeeded by one vote, with a final tally of 100 to 49. The Vermont Senate already voted to override the veto earlier this month.

The bill raises the state's minimum wage from $10.96 to $12.55 by 2022.Scott vetoed the bill on Feb. 10 and said that day he worried about the unintended consequences of "arbitrarily forcing wage increases."

On Tuesday, Scott reiterated this point in a written statement:

“My concerns for this bill – based on fiscal analysis from the Legislature’s Joint Fiscal Office – have been that the negative impacts on Vermont’s economy, workers’ hours and jobs will outweigh the positive benefits, especially in our more rural areas … We simply cannot sustain more job losses or closed businesses, particularly outside the greater Burlington area.”

Scott has also said in the past that he thought a higher minimum wage in Vermont would be difficult for businesses along the state's border with New Hampshire, where the minimum wage is $7.25 an hour.

But on Tuesday, House General, Housing And Military Affairs Chairman Tom Stevens said the governor's comments had little merit.

“We know that while insufficient, this minimal increase to the poverty wage will not bankrupt the businesses that pay this wage, whether they are located in rural areas of the state or in the more settled areas," he said. "Our work has shown that no economy has ever collapsed by providing a small increase in the minimum wage."

A recent VPR - Vermont PBS poll of registered Vermont voters shows a majority of poll respondents supported a higher minimum wage: 41% backed a $12.55 minimum wage, 33% would like to see it raised even higher, and 23% wanted to leave it at $10.96.

Copyright 2020 Vermont Public Radio

Bob is a veteran Vermont journalist, specializing in political reporting. He is based in VPR’s Capital Bureau located across the street from Vermont’s Statehouse. Prior to joining VPR full time in 2002, Bob ran the Vermont News Service for 21 years. The service provided daily local news for eleven stations, including VPR. Bob started the News Service following a stint as news director for WNCS.
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