The Massachusetts Senate is expected to debate a bill next week that would raise the minimum wage from $8 per hour to $11 per hour by 2016, giving the state the highest minimum wage in the country.
Many business groups are shocked over the size of the increase. Bill Vernon with the National Federation of Independent Business said the hike would cost the state jobs, hurt teen employment, and make Massachusetts non-competitive.
“I know we’re going to have an increase in the minimum wage but this increase is outrageous. It puts us out of step with other states, it’s out of line and it’s economically dangerous,” he said."
The bill is backed by Senate President Therese Murray. At a public hearing in June, she said that too many Massachusetts residents are just barely getting by:
"You’re seeing people who are just not making it here, and the cost to you, to taxpayers is going up and up because we’re subsidizing 40 hours or 60 hours a week workers with our tax dollars because they’re not making what they need in Massachusetts," she said at the hearing.
The Senate is expected to take up the bill Tuesday. But House Speaker Robert Deleo appears hesitant to take up a minimum wage bill without throwing a bone to businesses at the same time. He's said he wants to couple the minimum wage proposal with changes to unemployment insurance.