Capitol Correspondence - 07.22.19

House Passes Bill Raising Minimum Wage to $15 by 2024; Also Phases Out 14(c) Program

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ANCOR is sharing this article by The Hill on the Raise the Wage Act, which would raise the minimum wage to $15 because it is relevant to the disability community, which is facing a frontline staff workforce crisis. ANCOR has been following this bill since its introduction because it would cover our members in their function as employers. Disability supports would be covered by the law, while also facing constraints caused by fixed, non-negotiable wage rates set by state Medicaid agencies, as Medicaid funds most disability supports in the United States. Low rates are a significant component of the workforce crisis and while disability supports providers recognize the importance of higher wages, they face challenges specific to the Medicaid fiscal terrain. The bill is also relevant to providers who hold 14(c) certificates, as it phases out subminimum wages (14c) wages within six years to meet the $15 federal minimum wage requirements which also hit compliance within 6 years for the non-disability population. It is important to note that while the bill passed the Democratic-held House, it faces a significantly tougher road in the Republican-held Senate and passage, let alone consideration of the bill, are unlikely at this time. However, look out for messaging of this bill language as Democrats head into campaign mode for 2020 elections.

As written by The Hill:

“The House on Thursday approved legislation to raise the minimum wage to $15 by 2025 in a 231-199 vote that cut largely along party lines.

The legislation represented a long-evolving compromise between liberal and centrist Democrats who were initially at odds over how large the wage hike would be, how long it would take to phase it, and whether it would rise at the same level across the country or allow for regional flexibilities.

Liberals won the battle for enacting a wage hike to $15 across the country, while centrists succeeded in lengthening the phase-in period from five to six years. The legislation also includes an amendment favored by centrists requiring that the economic impact be studied as the early stages of the wage hike is implemented.

A report from the Congressional Budget Office projected the hike would lift 1.3 million people out of poverty, but that it would also cost the U.S. 1.3 million jobs by 2024. Those figures provided plenty of ammunition for both supporters and opponents of the bill, who cherrypicked the projections that backed their various arguments.”