Maine Currents 5/24/17

Producer/Host: Amy Browne
2nd segment audio recorded by John Greenman

Minimum Wage Increase: Did Mainers Know What They Were Doing?

Last November Mainers voted to gradually increase the state’s minimum wage from the (then) current rate of $7.50 an hour up to $12 an hour by 2020. After 2020 increases would be tied to inflation. Despite the fact that the measure drew strong support, several bills have been introduced in the state legislature that roll back the increases in various ways. In some cases the rate of increase is reduced. Other measures would tweak the formula for tipped staff or for younger workers or those in training.
9 such bills were presented in the legislature back in April, and yesterday the Labor, Commerce, Research and Economic Development Committee held a public hearing on yet another, LD1609 (“An Act To Support Maine’s Employers and Encourage Employers To Hire Young Workers”) and arguments on each side were reiterated.

Some of those who advocate overturning the will of the voters have said Mainers didn’t understand the consequences of their vote. They argue that small businesses will be forced to lay off workers or limit hiring and will pass along costs to consumers.

Supporters of the minimum wage increase say that even the slight increase makes a difference for low wage workers who are often forced into making tough choices with their limited pay. Matt Schlobohm, Executive Director of the Maine AFL-CIO told the committee that the $30 extra per week in one 70-year-old woman’s pocket had allowed her to purchase windshield wiper blades. She had lost her home and was forced to return to work when her husband became disabled, and before the first incremental increase in the minimum wage went into effect in January her budget was so tight that needing new wiper blades would have been a crisis.

On this week’s Maine Currents we listen in as the debate continues

Area Resident Weighs in on Bar Harbor Cruise Ship Pier Proposal
An event in Bucksport last week brought together several environmental groups for a discussion of local issues. “The Future of Our Forests, Rivers, Lakes, Fields and Ocean” was hosted by Maine Common Good Coalition Renata Moise expressed concerns about a new cruise ship pier being proposed in Bar Harbor:


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