The Maine Legislature is considering a bill to raise the minimum wage from the current $7.50 per hour to $9 over the course of the next two years.
While I support the concept of helping the working poor, that action does little to help. On average, 40 percent of the raise will be lost to sales tax, income payroll taxes and credits (more tax dollars to be spent in Augusta). And each item they purchase will cost more, each service they receive will be more expensive, simply because all those businesses would need to pay more in wages.
If raising the minimum wage were the end-all to prosperity, and Maine's minimum wage is already higher than in most states, why isn't the state prospering? And how would raising the minimum wage encourage business growth and new employers coming to Maine? (It wouldn’t.)
That being said, there may be room for compromise, if both parties would listen. Consider a graduated wage scale where new hires would receive the current minimum but with mandated step increases after six and 12 months. An employer would then have to decide which would be more cost effective — paying slightly higher wages for experience or hiring new staff and paying more for unemployment taxes and new hire training costs.
That is a bold plan but it could put Maine on track in a positive manner. “As Maine goes, so goes the nation."
Robert Reed, Lewiston