Minimum wage veto override vote stirs party loyalty debate

MONTPELIER — When House lawmakers on Tuesday voted 100-49 to override Gov. Phil Scott’s recent veto of a minimum wage bill, at least one lawmaker spoke up and questioned the ethics of switching votes during an override attempt.

Prior to the vote, state Rep. Heidi Scheuermann, R-Stowe, pleaded with 54 of her fellow lawmakers to stick by their earlier vote against the legislation to raise the wage to $12.55.

Rep. Heidi Scheuermann, R-Stowe

“There’s a bit of an elephant in the room, I think,” Scheuermann said. “The question today is whether or not those 54 individual legislators with the privilege and honor to serve the people of their district, who received the support of the people in their district, will stick with the people of their district.”

The lawmaker, who eventually cast her vote to sustain the governor’s veto, was reacting to strong pressure coming from House leadership to get lawmakers to support the higher minimum.

Shortly after she spoke, one of those earlier 54 no votes stood up to defend what she said was driving her decision to change her vote and support the veto override.

“I want to speak this morning because I was one of the 54 individuals who voted against this bill when it was on the floor previously,” Rep. Theresa Wood, D-Waterbury, said. “And two years ago when we voted on an increase to the minimum wage, I also voted no on that.”

She added that her intentions to switch her vote were genuine.

“I changed my mind about this and, frankly, I took significant heat at home for voting no on this bill previously in my district,” Wood said. “While I don’t disagree with some of the issues that people have raised here today, what I do know is that there are over 10,000 workers who provide care to the people who are impacted by this. And I know that we will deal with the Medicaid issue in this body because we do hold those people and the resources needed to support those people who receive Medicaid services as a priority here.”

Wood was referring to the fact that Medicaid funds don’t presently cover many of the services they support, and that adding a higher wage burden could make the situation worse.

Michael Bielawski/TNR

MINIMUM WAGE HIKE: House Minority Leader Pattie McCoy, R-Poultney, told House colleagues on Tuesday that studies show net income and benefits can actually decline if the minimum wage rises too sharply.

Rep. Cynthia Browning, D-Arlington, who two weeks ago criticized her party’s leadership for “deplorable” actions, including pressuring party members to fall in line, explained why she opposed raising the minimum wage.

“In order not to have negative effects on employment, we need to be sure that minimum wage increases are moderate and cautious,” she said. “The increases that I supported in 2014 were moderate and cautious and I supported them.”

Despite the impassioned debate, the minimum wage in Vermont will now rise from from $10.96 to $12.55 by 2022. The Vermont House garnered the two-thirds majority necessary to override the governor’s action to stop the measure.

The rate of increase is greater per year than the annual increases in the $15 proposal debated last year.

Reps. Brian Savage, R-Swanton, and Michael Mrowicki, D-Putney, expressed disagreement about what raising the minimum wage might mean for towns bordering New Hampshire, a state with a minimum wage of $7.25 an hour.

“Bearing in mind that New Hampshire has no state income tax, no state sales tax, and lower property taxes, these small mom-and-pop shops already sit at an economic disadvantage,” Savage said. “Many of them are closed up shop permanently and many others remain on the brink of closure struggling to stay afloat.”

Mrowicki offered a different view on the situation.

“It’s working the other way — people are coming to Vermont for the Vermont advantage,” he said. “And overall, if you look at what the Tax Foundation puts out when comparing the two states, our overall tax burdens are about the same.”

He added that according to his associates in New Hampshire, there are many fees and hidden taxes that balance out the overall cost to do business.

Michael Bielawski is a reporter for True North. Send him news tips at and follow him on Twitter @TrueNorthMikeB.

Image courtesy of Michael Bielawski/TNR

19 thoughts on “Minimum wage veto override vote stirs party loyalty debate

  1. You still won’t be able to buy anything because Vermont is unaffordable.

    You’ll still be in poverty, because Vermont wants more poor people, they make millions off trapping people in government programs.

    Tickle down economics works perfectly, case in point.
    China by adopting only some free market policies raises it’s people from rice patties to millionaire, in less than 40 years.
    Vermont, by adopting some socialist policies, traps people in poverty, ruins families and creates equal misery.

    This was posted 8 hours ago on VT Digger, still being moderated, will a simple explanation like this see the light of day in the Vermont press?

    As Meg Hansen who’s running for Lt. Gov points out, all the states in the union have seen economic progress in the last 4 years….except Vermont. Proves the point yet again, can’t get out of poverty if your only wage is $12 or $15 per hour….

  2. Pure sophistry….again. Here are some of the details Mr. Mrowicki obviously doesn’t understand. And, hopefully, he reads this missive and responds to it… although I’m not going to hold my breath in anticipation of his further comments.

    Re: “It’s working the other way — people are coming to Vermont for the Vermont advantage,”

    Define ‘advantage’. To who’s ‘advantage’?

    The only people coming to Vermont are those who are either in the low income (i.e. unskilled) cohort or wealthy retirees. This is why Vermont’s middle class (and their children) aren’t here, why school enrollments are tanking, and why our schools have a disproportionate and expensive Special Education population (twice the national average with ‘behavioral’ disabilities for the most part).

    And yes, NH has many fees and taxes. But they aren’t hidden, except to those who choose not to look at and analyze them. I’ve run a business in NH for 30 years. I know a thing or two about NH taxes. What NH does that sets it apart is that increased success (profitability and higher wages) are rewarded with proportionately lower costs. When businesses and individuals earn more money, they don’t pay anywhere near the increase in taxes they do in Vermont. Worker’s Comp rates are lower in NH. There’s no income tax or sales tax. And employers can afford to hire untrained or poorly trained people because they can still pay the minimum wage. As a result, NH has a growing workforce and higher average wages than does VT.

    Mr. Mrowicki: You’re one of my representatives and you’re elected by a constituency (of which you are a member) that works primarily in the government/healthcare/education sectors. I don’t see anywhere in your bio that you’ve ever run a business. Other than the cohort in which you exist, and the low income and wealthy retiree class, …who other than this majority gang is advantaged in Vermont? I challenge you to explain to us how Vermont’s so-called ‘advantage’ is sustainable for the middle class.

    • Jay, I also had an engineering business in NH 26 years. A few customers were Polaroid, Raytheon, Pitney Bowes, GE, IBM, Burndy, Martin Marietta, Johnson Gage and many more round the country and England.

      NH let me alone. They have a business tax, but there ways around it. NH never told me what to do and how to do it. I had property 1810 cape and 60 acres in Alton, taxes went from $600 to $2500 in 20 years. Not bad.

      • ” I had property 1810 cape and 60 acres in Alton, taxes went from $600 to $2500 in 20 years. Not bad.”

        Not bad, and everyone has skin in the game there in regards to property taxes. Unlike 70% of the property tax payers in VT. There will NEVER be control of spending until the subsidy is reigned in. And hell will freeze over before that happen. I surely wasn’t going to stick around holding my breath.

    • ” I challenge you to explain to us how Vermont’s so-called ‘advantage’ is sustainable for the middle class.”

      It’s not, that’s why families like ours told VT to pound sand. I sit here from a state that is booming with young vibrant families living the American dream. My states economy is running on all cylinders, we are building new schools for the influx of new students from states like VT. All the while the exact opposite happens in my old home state of VT. Your schools are shuttering doors as the student population continues it’s downward spiral, yet property taxes continue to sky rocket. It’s really quite sad to watch this all unfold from a outsiders perspective. However, the writing has been on the wall for years and that’s why we left 4 years ago. My wallet very much appreciated the relief from VT and the unions that run the state.

      • God bless the United States and its constitutionally granted ‘States’ Rights’ provisions.

        There’s nothing in the precepts of liberty and freedom guarantying that individuals or States will always do the smart thing. But those precepts do allow us, as Mr. Jorgensen can attest, to learn from the mistakes of others and do what we can to avoid them.

        Hopefully, the ‘Mrowicki constituency’ will figure this out before it’s too late for those of us still stubborn or sufficiently trapped enough to be here.

  3. You still won’t be able to buy anything, because Vermont is unaffordable.

    Those in majority will not get people out of poverty.

    Vermont is the best at keeping people in poverty, people make a ton of money by keeping people poor and getting more people on welfare.

  4. Mrowicki is in a dream world saying
    “Mrowicki offered a different view on the situation.
    “It’s working the other way — people are coming to Vermont for the Vermont advantage,” he said. “And overall, if you look at what the Tax Foundation puts out when comparing the two states, our overall tax burdens are about the same.”
    He added that according to his associates in New Hampshire, there are many fees and hidden taxes that balance out the overall cost to do business.”

    People are leaving NH to go to VT and buy. WOW. Why is NH so prosperous? Why are the store parking lots so full of VT & MA cars? Why is VT contacting credit card outfits of VT’ers to charge VT’ers sales taxes on purchases in NH? VT Tax Dept is like the Gestapo

    Furthermore, this Mrowick wrote and voted how proud he was that late term and after birth abortions were great. Can’t get more delusional than that. Legal killing methods are OK, yet he probably against people owning guns to protect themselves. Not a proud person.

    • And why, then, is Vermont inclined to offer a cash bounty to out-of-staters (at taxpayer VT expense) to move to VT? If NH did that, VT would become uninhabited.

      • Good Q. Or are they also desirous to get VT’ers back? If those people get the $10K the state will shortly get it back via taxes. It’s a no-win situation.

  5. VT is like the old East Germany whereas NH is similarly like prosperous West Germany, North Korea v South Korea: Night and day. Socialism / Communism v Freedom.

    Why don’t they leave private businesses alone. They are the ones that desire to stay in business, don’t need gov telling them what to do. Having had a business 26 years I know. Gov was a constant thorn with know-it-all bureaucrats desirous to put you out of business. Socialist Montpelier. BS loves Cuba-’nuff said.

  6. I went to get a paper this morning and the woman behind the counter said that people can’t live on $12.55 an hour. I said to go get a better job and was told that she has two jobs now, I wonder what will happen to the jobs when this kicks in.

    • Assuming this woman works fulltime between the two jobs, she’s earning more than $25,000 a year. Doesn’t she realize that Vermont ranks eighth in its pretax wage equivalent of its welfare benefit package, at $42,350 annually?

      My guess is… she does know this, and, to use the same characterization Mr. Mrowicki used when describing NH, VT has many ‘hidden’ benefits for the low-income cohort too. But no one discusses them because they don’t meet the victimization narrative of Vermont’s disadvantaged class, or those, like Mr. Mrowicki, who cater to them.

  7. So the question is what will be enough money, you keep hearing ” Livable Wage”
    what does that really mean ??

    Vermont is overtaxed, to say the least, and with every year and more taxes for
    what, liberal nonsense from those screaming for a livable wage, while putting
    undue pressure on small business, pay your bills, that includes your employees
    pay increase……….maybe I’ll just close the doors, and try New Hampshire.

    Liberals in Montpelier only care about one thing an agenda, they don’t care about
    any ramifications on small & medium businesses, ..shameful. Nah, they have non.

    The Adage ” Build it he/they will come ” well that includes a real Government of the
    people………….not an agenda !!

  8. Yesterday I commented on FPF that if these feel good politicians continue to be misled by those lining their pockets or their agents, the only people left who will be able to enjoy our beautiful state will be rich vacationers who are smart enough not to live here.

    When will we stop drinking the Kool-aid provided by Bernie and his followers who threaten the destruction of not only this state but of our young Republic?

  9. from the story: “Michael Mrowicki, (D-Putney) offered a different view on the situation:
    ‘It’s working the other way — people are coming to Vermont for the Vermont advantage’ !”

    This fellow offers no explanation of how his “Vermont Advantage” actually “works the other way !” Sure a minimum wage of $12 an hour is nice, however isn’t $15 an hour better ? How about $23 per hour which is the rate of pay necessary to overcome the sirens call of the welfare benefits available to the poor in the state ! Heck, why not set the minimum wage at $50 per hour – wouldn’t the entry level employees be pleased with a $2,000 a week paycheck ?

    But the sad reality is that even the $12 rate will mean fewer entry level jobs will be available and those lucky enough to benefit from the increase will most probably find their employer needs to reduce their hours to “make ends meet !”

    As to the Connecticut River businesses – the hourly increase will doom the last small business holdouts ! Want proof, just go to Google Maps and look at the satellite view – the Vermont side of the river, lots of trees with a few little homes – the New Hampshire side, brimming with new homes, commercial businesses and industrial plants ! They’re not situated there because the east side of the river is prettier – it’s because of lower taxes, less regulations and plentiful employees willing to work for more modest entry level wages.

    The truth is that those who dream-up these feel good laws have never run a business and had to make payroll every Friday.

    • Just read Mr. Mrowicki’s self-described bio.

      “I can use a manure spreader as well as a spread sheet and I know a peavey from a pike- and how to use it. And, all these have been useful tools in living a diverse life, like mot (sic) Vermonters do.”

      Really. Mr. Mrowicki, if anything, demonstrates one thing over and again – that he knows how to use a ‘manure spreader’.

  10. These guys, gals shot themselves in their collective feet by over riding the veto. Rave on crazy dem, program, libs.

  11. They just can’t stop futzing with things. They’re killing the businesses that would otherwise drive wages up.

    When there are a thousand places to work….the worker has the power. When there are 10 places to work…the employer has the power. Which do you think gets you a “true” livable wage?

    A worker SHORTAGE gets you a livable wage. Bringing workers in with 10,000 dollar “move here incentives” and socialized pay scales for people who are doing low value jobs…one way or the other…gives you a surplus of workers….locking people in at the minimum wage.

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