S.23 Increase the Minimum Wage

S.23 Increase the Minimum Wage

S.23 proposes to raise the minimum wage to $15/hour by 2024. This will make a big difference in many Vermonters’ lives.

Can businesses really afford to raise wages?

Powerful corporations are reaping the profits as they keep a cap on wages and eliminate benefits, turning full-time jobs into part-time jobs. They bully working people, claiming that jobs disappear when wages go up. But numerous studies – based on real minimum wage increases – show that increases in the minimum wage will not cause employers to eliminate jobs. Instead, it gives employees more money to spend, which increases consumer demand, and that will create more jobs.

Raising the minimum wage will actually help businesses, by decreasing employee turnover as employees maintain healthier and happier lives. Small businesses will save money associated with training and recruiting new employees. In 2014, the state with one of the nation’s highest minimum wages—Washington State—also topped most of the lists for small business job growth.

A higher minimum wage will attract new residents to Vermont, creating new consumer markets and giving a boost to the economy.

Won’t low income people lose their benefits if we raise their wages?

This is why we’re also working to expand Vermont’s Earned Income Tax Credit and to smooth the “benefits trough,” so that families will really be able to enjoy the benefits of raising the minimum wage.

How much does it really cost to live in Vermont?

The Economic Policy Institute’s Family Budget Calculator shows that a single, childless adult, working full-time year-round, would have to earn $19.51/hour in Orleans County to achieve a modest standard of living. Orleans County is the most “affordable” county in Vermont. At the other end, similar Grand Isle County workers would need to earn $23.14/hour. The Family Budget Calculator includes expenses such as transportation, prevailing housing costs, and self-insured health care costs that are not included in the Vermont livable wage basic needs budget.

Who does low-wage work?

• Vermont’s poverty rate is on the rise and is currently at 11.3%.

• There are more than 26,800 children in Vermont with at least one adult in their household – a parent, grandparent, caretaker, or adult sibling – who would benefit from raising the minimum wage to $15/hour by 2024.

• Of Vermonters earning less than $15/hour, 58% are women.

• Nearly half of all Vermonters in low-wage jobs have some level of college education, and more than 86% have a high school diploma.

• 62% of those who would be affected by a $15 minimum wage are older than 25.

• Vermonters earning low wages work in food related service, retail and health/personal care.

• Gradually increasing the minimum wage would boost incomes for almost 100,000 Vermonters, boosting our economy and building stronger communities.

Let’s stand for Vermonters and support a raise in the minimum wage!

H.531 Invest in Childcare

According to Mitzi Johnson, Vermont Speaker of the House, “this bill aims to make childcare more accessible and affordable for Vermont families by placing the retention and professional development of childcare professionals as a top priority.”

H.531 invests $10.5 million in Vermont’s childcare and early learning system. It includes:

• increased reimbursement rates to childcare providers

• a student loan program for early educators to further their professional development

• investments in revamping the Child Care Financial Assistance Program (CCFAP).

For more information, see this handout.

Policies like this make Vermont a more attractive state to live, work, and raise a family. According to Ann Pugh, Chair of the House Committee on Human Services, “the difficulties associated with funding child care can result in young families delaying having children or deciding not to have children at all. This bill aims to ensure that Vermont’s children are safe and that caregivers are receiving adequate compensation with the opportunity to further their education. High quality childcare will shape Vermont’s next generation and grow our economy.”

Let’s invest in our futures!

H.513 Broadband Expansion

To market Vermont as a place where employees can work remotely, Vermonters must have reliable internet access. Vermonters across the state, especially in rural communities, benefit when they can tap into the commerce, educational opportunities, and resources available on the web.

H.513 Broadband Expansion Bill invests $1.5 million in Fiscal year 2020 into three areas of need:

• The Broadband Innovation Grant Program 

• Connectivity Initiative grants

• Increased funding for the Department of Public Service.

These investments target the 17,000 Vermont households that lack access to the most basic internet service.

This investment will boost Vermont’s economy and improve Vermonters’ quality of life!

H.439 Weatherization for Low-income Vermonters

Helping low-income Vermonters weatherize their homes is good for our economy and our way of life. H.439 generates the money to do this by asking higher income Vermonters to pay a mere average of $2/month to invest in low-income weatherization. This plan will provide the best bang for the buck and boost Vermont’s economy, while saving lives.

H.439 Will Improve the Health of Vulnerable Vermonters

In a recent report, the Vermont Dept. of Health estimated that
weatherizing 2,000 low-income homes in Vermont would help prevent an estimated
223 emergency department visits, 13 hospitalizations, and 0.5 deaths over a 10-year
period, associated with reduced health impacts caused by asthma, cold and heat.
They also estimated the 10-year value of energy and health benefits from
weatherization to be at least $24,757 per household, or about three times the
initial cost.

Vermonters with limited incomes can least afford the costs of
inefficient homes and volatile fossil fuel prices. They stand to gain the most
– in savings and health – from this crucial program.

Weatherizing Works

Currently Vermont invests approximately $10 million in state
funds annually to weatherize about 900 vulnerable Vermonters’ homes. This cost,
approximately $8,500 per home, achieves an approximate 29% energy savings per
home (average $500/year) and lowers greenhouse emissions by about 1.8 tons per
home annually.

Weatherization can help reduce low income Vermonters’ energy
bills and free up more of their money to spend on other important things:
education, health care, food, childcare and other things that contribute to our
economy.

Heating an inefficient, leaky home is like sending dollars up
the chimney and out the windows. Rural and low income Vermonters are the most
likely to live in these homes.

The Best Bang for your Buck

Investing in efficiency has proven time and again to be one of
the highest return investments possible in the energy sector.  The
cheapest energy source is the energy that you don’t use.

For every $1 invested in weatherization $2.51 is returned to the
household and community.

The U.S. Department of Energy estimates that for every $1
invested in weatherization, it returns over FOUR times ($4.50) in energy and
non-energy benefits…creating lower bills, healthier homes, greater comfort,
greater productivity, and reducing GHG emissions. There is no investor on Wall
Street who wouldn’t want that cost/benefit ratio.

The Vermont Department of Health estimates that the 10-year
benefit of weatherization in fuel savings and health is nearly THREE times
greater than the initial investment per household.  

H.439 will be Good for Vermont’s Economy

Efficiency supports the largest number of clean energy jobs in
Vermont (10,600 in 2017). Of those, 7,800 Vermonters are employed in
weatherization and thermal efficiency.

This investment will create more jobs in Vermont’s fastest
growing job sector – clean energy – equating to full time jobs through the WAP
agencies and their subcontractors.

This investment would help keep far more Vermont energy dollars
in state. Vermont imports 100 percent of the fossil fuels we use. That means 78
cents out of every dollar spent on fossil fuels leaves the state, creating a
significant drain on our economy.

For every dollar invested in weatherization, roughly 50 cents
goes to local labor and about 30 cents buys materials (mostly from local
suppliers) with the remainder going to equipment, vehicles, supplies and
administration. Most of these dollars stay local, recirculating and helping to
bolster Vermont’s economy. 

H.439 Will Help Vermont Meet Climate Goals

Since 2005, Vermont has had greenhouse gas emissions goals in
statute, aimed at doing our part to address the increasingly urgent issue of
climate change. We are falling far short of those goals and more needs to be
done to reduce energy consumption in our 2nd most carbon-intensive sector. To
meet our GHG targets and get to 90% renewable by 2050, Vermont needs to drive
down about 1/3 of its energy consumption through efficiency.

In 2007, the Vermont Legislature set a goal of weatherizing at
least 25% of the state’s housing stock by 2020 (approximately 80,000 housing
units overall). As of 2017 (latest figures), Vermont was at 25,409 overall and
just over 10,000 low-income. We have a ways to go.

This is also one of the most economically impactful climate
action strategies the state could embrace. Recently, at the request of JFO, the
Regulatory Assistance analyzed “non pricing” climate and energy solutions.
Their high level takeaway? In terms of addressing climate change,
weatherization “avoid(s) carbon emissions at better than zero cost.”

Let’s take a stand for our most vulnerable Vermonters and give
an extra boost to our economy while we’re at it!

For more information, here are some recent editorials about
Vermont Weatherization efforts:

●      Maura
Collins: How we heat our homes matters

●      Marion
Mohri: The good work of the Weatherization Program

●      John
McCormick: Carbon reduction — get it right