Lawmakers in the Vermont House have garnered the two-thirds majority needed to override Gov. Phil Scott’s veto of a bill to raise the state’s minimum wage.
The House voted Tuesday by a 100 to 49 margin, overriding Scott’s veto by just a single vote. Scott, who vetoed a bill two years ago that would have raised the minimum wage to $15 an hour, has argued that it would hurt both workers and small businesses.
Senate President Pro Tem Tim Ashe (D/P – Chittenden) was critical of the veto earlier this month. He said there was enough compromise among Democrats to ensure the bill went into law.
“When it comes down to it, it’s really a question about do we want to lift the pay of tens of thousands of people or not,” Ashe said. “The amount that its being raised over the course of two years, some wish it was more, but it’s quite modest which meant that it could enlist more support from more House members to get over the hump.”
Following Tuesday’s vote, Scott said in a statement, “While disappointing, it’s now more important than ever to move forward and focus on policies that actually grow the economy, make Vermont more affordable, attract more to our workforce to reverse our demographic crisis and help workers move up the economic ladder with more skills for better paying jobs.”
Rep. Scott Beck (R – Caledonia) was one of 49 Representatives to vote against raising the minimum wage. Like Scott, he is concerned the bill won’t bring relief for rural Vermonters.
“We are artificially trying to get out ahead of the labor markets, and that just isn’t helping workers,” Beck said. “They’re getting further and further behind. My caucus, we would much rather see the hard work be done. Increasing our income tax credit, addressing affordability.”
According to the recently-released VPR – Vermont PBS 2020 Poll, Vermont voters are in favor of raising the minimum wage. 41 percent of respondents wanted to see it raised to $12.55 an hour, while 33 percent wanted a larger increase.
The Senate voted to overide the governor’s veto on Feb. 13. The bill now becomes law and calls for raising the minimum wage to $11.75 next year and $12.55 by 2022.