Mass. Speaker Deleo seconds Gov. Patrick to raise minimum wage

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January 29, 2014, 6:01 pm
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(NECN: Alison King) – Mass. House Speaker Robert Deleo says he will soon file legislation that will strengthen state gun laws, as well as comprehensive domestic violence legislation. These are just two of the priorities outlined in the Speaker's version of the State of the State, which was delivered one day after Governor Deval Patrick's.

Deleo and Patrick have not always seen eye to eye on some of the state's biggest agenda items, but they can agree on one:

"This session, we will raise our minimum wage," Deleo said.

The state Senate has already passed a minimum wage bill that would raise the current $8 dollars an hour to $11 dollars. This suggests that an increase will happen, although it is unclear when.

"I have a number in my head, yeah, but this is a negotiation. I think, more than anything, the role I want to play is to help the parties to get to a good number," said Governor Patrick.

However, many in the business community say a minimum wage increase will come at a cost.

"If you raise the minimum wage, jobs will be lost. It's a cost on labor and one or another has to give. You either have to raise the price of your products or reduce spending," explained Bill Vernon of the National Federation of Independent Businesses.

Vernon is more enthusiastic about what Deleo hopes to do, which is to pair a minimum wage increase to UI, or unemployment insurance.

"This is the year we will improve our UI system,” Deleo said.

Speaker Deleo also touched on the situation at the Department of Children and Families, involving the disappearance of a 5-year-old boy. Deleo credited the legislature's oversight committee for taking strong action and demanding better for the state's children.

"If funding is the problem, we will address funding," Deleo said.

In addition, Deleo ruled out any new taxes or fees, which means that Governor Patrick's call for a sales tax on candy and soda will likely not happen.

Tags: massachusetts, robert deleo, State of the State, Deval Patrick, Alison King, Bill Vernon, minimum wage, dcf
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