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Vt. House bucks Shumlin, speeds wage hike - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Vt. House bucks Shumlin, speeds wage hike

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MONTPELIER, Vt. -

Members of the Vermont House spent all day debating a proposed hike to the minimum wage only to land almost exactly where they started, but the bill is a far cry from what the governor first proposed just more than a month ago.

The House gave approval to a raise for Vermont's lowest-earners Tuesday.

But unlike the governor's plan to raise the bar to $10.10 an hour by 2017, the House's plan would do so by next year. Proponents say a study by the state economist shows the move will be good for everyone's bottom line.

That left Republican opponents and some Democrats fighting for the governor's plan on the floor. They argue an immediate raise hurts business. They also worry raising wages could lead some to fall off the benefits cliff as higher earnings cut their eligibility for the social safety net

Proponents counter that people want independence and say a higher wage will have a net positive impact.

"Why wouldn't we agree with the findings of the study, giving these hard working Vermonters a raise, put $30 million back in to the Vermont economy and save taxpayers $3 million," said Rep. Jean O'Sullivan, D-Burlington.

"I think Mr. Speaker that this is a mistake. I think it's a bad message for the body to be sending to small businesses across the state of Vermont," said Rep. Kurt Wright, R-Burlington.

In 2006, Gov. Peter Shumlin, D-Vermont, pledged tying Vermont's minimum wage to the cost of living would eliminate the need for these debates in the Statehouse.

Proponents of the House's plan point out that Shumlin's pitch would only amount to about a 25-cent raise given inflation by the time it was fully implemented.

At a news conference earlier in the day, the governor stood by his plan but did say he's willing to compromise.

Senators say they don't expect the Senate's appetite for a minimum wage hike to be as substantial as the House's.

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