Legislator seeks further data about minimum wage

Delaware State News | by Craig Anderson

A bill calling for an economic-impact analysis connected to pending minimum-wage legislation would infuse related discussions with more specific information, its author said this week.

Rep. Bryan Shupe, R-Milford, is calling on the state’s Office of the Controller General to execute or contract out a study tied to Senate Bill 15, approved by the Senate in March and sent to the House of Representatives. If passed, it will increase the state’s minimum wage from $9.25 an hour to $15 an hour by 2025.

While debates on the merits of an increased minimum wage have centered around “talking points, political agendas and emotional appeals,” Rep. Shupe said he aims for discourse involving “empirical evidence and financial projections and how this will impact the state of Delaware and taxpayers on the public side, along with small businesses and employees on the private side.”

Rep. Shupe said a study would “guide lawmakers, the public and the press through making a decision based on empirical evidence instead of political talking points.

“I am certain this analysis will provide both positive and negative impacts on raising Delaware’s minimum wage to $15 per hour, and I believe this study can provide us all with a more detailed discussion on how to improve the lives of Delaware families.”

According to Rep. Shupe, who said he wrote the legislation along with a House attorney, the proposal awaits assignment by the speaker of the House and could be sent to the Economic Development/Banking/Insurance/Commerce Committee or to the Revenue & Finance Committee. The bill must be heard within 12 legislative days of its release, he said.

According to the representative, “As with all public policy, we must research and do the heavy lifting before making decisions. The residents of Delaware elected us to put in the time to educate ourselves, engage with different sides of the issue and create a policy that will result in long-term, sustainable growth.

“To do this, the public, press and lawmakers need full disclosure of the impacts of this legislation on taxpayers and an analysis of our local, free market. With this information, we can have an enlightened, useful discussion that will lead to a community-driven policy that can truly help Delaware families.”

Rep. Shupe’s bill is also sponsored by state Sen. Ernie Lopez, R-Lewes, along with a host of other Republican legislators.

Rep. John Kowalko, D-Newark, said on Wednesday that he was “stunned by the irresponsibility of (their) proposal” when approached by Rep. Shupe and Sen. Lopez by email to support the action last month.

“I find it very concerning that you would propose any legislation that would stifle or delay moving forward on any pre-filed bill,” Rep. Kowalko responded in the email March 20.

“Historically bills move through a process, and if there are concerns regarding costs, then a request is made seeking fiscal impact from the Controller General’s office. Since the Minimum Wage bill has passed through the committee process and garnered an affirmative vote of the Senate I am finding it difficult to not question your intentions or agenda.

“Establishing a criteria or process of precertification of proposed legislation sets a dangerous precedent and is not healthy to the democratic process that exists today in Delaware. I hope you’ll reconsider your proposed legislation and see the flaws and difficulties it would establish.”

In response, Rep. Shupe replied by email: “I cannot understand why any Delaware legislator would be opposed to looking at empirical evidence and real, on the street-level impacts of minimum wage legislation that will affect every Delaware family through changes to state spending and our free-market economy.”

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