Act for Livable Wage

retro-1291745_1920It’s been a long time since “minimum wage” was synonymous with a “livable wage,” but we have a chance to change that in Vermont.  The minimum wage bill is currently in the House General, Housing, and Military Affairs Committee. It is expected to be voted out soon. It then goes to two key “money” committees. It’s fate there is uncertain.

Action Needed

Call members of the House Ways and Means Committee and House Appropriations Committee, urge them to support minimum wage increases. Contact information is included below.

Proposed Call Script:
My name is {insert} and I live at {address}, and I’m calling to ask you to support a minimum wage increase when the bill comes to your committee. The marketplace has served to increase high-end wages while allowing low-end wages to stagnate. This is unacceptable. Neighboring states like Mass. and New York have already raised their minimum wages and there is no evidence to suggest it has cost their economies any jobs. Please support Vermonters by increasing the minimum wage.

 
If you’re inclined to write letters to your local newspapers in support of raising the minimum wage, see talking-points and background information below.

House Ways and Means Committee

Rep. Janet Ancel, Chair | (802) 249-1660
Rep. Samuel Young, Vice Chair | (802) 321-0365
Rep. William Canfield, Ranking Member | (802) 265-4428
Rep. Fred Baser | (802) 453-4391
Rep. Cynthia Browning | (802) 375-9019
Rep. James Condon | (802) 655-5764
Rep. Johannah Donovan | (802) 863-4634
Rep. Gabrielle Lucke, Clerk | (802) 296-2690
Rep. James Masland | (802) 785-4146
Rep. George W. Till | (802) 899-2984
Rep. Kurt Wright | (802) 658-1410

House Appropriations Committee

Rep. Catherine Toll, Chair | (802) 684-3671
Rep. Peter J. Fagan, Vice Chair | (802) 342-1214
Rep. Kathleen C. Keenan, Ranking Member | (802) 524-5013
Rep. Maureen Dakin | (802) 777-8507
Rep. Martha Feltus | (802) 626-9516
Rep. Robert Helm | (802) 265-2145
Rep. Mary S. Hooper | (802) 223-2892
Rep. Bernard Juskiewicz | (802) 644-5606
Rep. Diane Lanpher | (802) 877-2230
Rep. Matthew Trieber, Clerk | (802) 376-1134
Rep. David Yacovone |(802) 888-5958

Background for Letter Writing

• A livable wage as defined by VT Joint Financial Office 2016 $15.76 for a single person in rural areas, $17.64 for a single person in urban areas, or $13.03 each for a couple living together with no children

• Most minimum wage earners are NOT kids, working part-time. They are
over 30 years old (65%), working full-time (72%), and more than 50% bring home more than half of the family income. Over 50% are women.

• An estimated 90,000 Vermonters will get a raise when the minimum wage is raised to $15 per hour. An increase to $15 per hour is estimated to generate $250 million in new income. This is money that will be spent locally…stimulating the local economy and generate associated tax income.

• The wage a household would need to earn in order to spend no more than 30% of its income on rent is $21.90 per hour (or $26.83 in Chittenden County).

• Purdue University says raising the minimum wage to $15 per hour would raise the price of Big Mac from $3.99 to $4.17.

• Massachusetts and New York currently have a minimum wage that is higher than VT at $11. There is NO evidence that those states are losing jobs to VT. The thought that we would lose jobs to New Hampshire is fear mongering.

• A higher minimum wage will be good for the state budget–higher income means less need for state-funded services.

• It is argued that the market should decide wages. Really? Wages have stagnated over the last decade.

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Action: Contact the State Judiciary Committee

From the ACLU:

Every day in Vermont we imprison people who have not been convicted of a crime simply because they are poor. It is the inevitable result of our cash bail system, where defendants must trade money for their freedom. We’ve been working with legislators on reform this legislative session. Now, we’re facing an effort by Vermont prosecutors and sheriffs to derail those reforms by instead setting setting a cap on bail that will be far out of reach for poor Vermonters.

Tell the Senate Judiciary Committee: Don’t gut bail reform!

The Vermont House passed a bail reform bill (H.728) earlier this session that eliminated money bail for low-level misdemeanors. This is a great first step towards making our system more fair and equitable. But the Vermont Department of State’s attorneys and sheriffs now want to amend the bill to leave money bail in place for these misdemeanors, and instead impose a cap of $1,000, an unaffordable amount for most low-income Vermonters that would render the reform meaningless.

In Vermont, around 400 people every day are incarcerated pre-trial, many because they cannot afford to pay bail. Even short stays in jail can have cascading effects. Defendants lose their jobs, their cars, their homes, and even custody of their children, without having been convicted of a crime. A $1,000 cap on bail would do nothing to reduce the number of people we lock up needlessly, at taxpayer expense.

A recent ACLU poll showed that 89 percent of voters say it is very important for prosecutors to actively work towards ending mass incarceration—at least some of Vermont’s state’s attorneys clearly haven’t heard that message, but it’s not too late to make sure our senators do.

We need your help to make sure that Vermonters receive the same justice regardless of their ability to pay. Tell the Senate Judiciary Committee that Vermonters demand meaningful bail reform.

Action Needed: Tell Governor Scott Education Experience Matters

Tell Gov. Scott the DeVos Model of Education Isn't forVermont (1)Governor Scott is at it again. He’s threatening to “right size” the Vermont education system. Make no mistake, by right size he means to decrease funding and resources.
This week, after the current education secretary resigned, Governor Scott announced that the next Vermont Education Secretary DOES NOT NEED EXPERIENCE IN EDUCATION!!!! Sorry, for the bold print and all-caps but the brazenness of this is shocking. Basically, this plan mimics the national model, where someone like Betsy Devos will have the power to make critical decisions for our students. See the VT Digger article here.
Governor Scott is trying to sell the idea that a strict business model for Vermont’s schools will solve state budget issues and attract people to the state. We cannot overstate how ludicrous this all is.
If you would like more information see below. Meanwhile PLEASE take the following actions:
1. Call Governor Scott and tell him that Vermont students deserve education experts determining their future.
Call 802-828-3333 and ask to speak with an Education Staffer
Suggested script:
This is [name] calling from [town]. I am calling in response to Gov. Scott’s proposal that the next Vermont Education Secretary does not need education expertise. This is an appalling proposition that threatens the well-being of our students. Vermont statute states that the education secretary must be an expert in education. Moving to a business model ignores the complicated problems facing our schools including poverty and consequences of the opioid crisis. Any attempt to ignore the knowledge of educators with do harm to students and the state of Vermont for generations. Vermont’s next Education Secretary must have education expertise and familiarity with the many problems facing Vermont’s public schools.
2. Tell the Vermont Board of Education to nominate qualified candidates to the position of Secretary of Education
  • Also include Gov Scott in all communication with the Vermont Board of Education. You can cut and paste your message to the Board of Education here with a brief sentence stating that this is your message to the Vermont Board of Education.
  • Suggested email script:
Dear Vermont Board of Education,
I am a resident of [town]. I am writing to request that all suggested candidates for Vermont Secretary of Education are qualified in education, as stated in statute Title 3, Chapter 27,  2702, Secretary of Education. Vermont schools are at a critical juncture and facing complex issues, including growing poverty and the opioid crisis. Only a person with an understanding of these complexities and their impact on education should oversea Vermont’s public schools. Any effort to reduce school oversight to a strict business model will harm our students and our communities. 
Thank you for honoring this request and ensuring quality education for Vermont’s students. 
Sincerely,
[Name]
[Town]  
​If you have a personal story to emphasize the importance of education in our communities, also share this in your email.
3. Tell your friends and spread the message.
 
Share this information on social media. Check out our public Facebook page for a shareable post – coming soon!
Thank you Indivisibles. You are the best!

Gun Legislation Update — Further Action

Congratulations to all who called on the Harrison Amendment yesterday! The amendment was withdrawn.

I want to update you on Gun Legislation. There is a lot of information floating around Facebook and elsewhere about the need to call about senate and house gun reform bills. I have been sleuthing for more details and here is the information coming from the statehouse:

The governor’s office is keeping track of calls. If you have already called the governor’s office, pat yourself on the back. You do not need to call more than once.

If you have NOT called the governor’s office, PLEASE do so. Please see call information and script below. Continue reading “Gun Legislation Update — Further Action”

Protect Health Care Benefits & Bargaining Rights

URGENT – CALL YOUR STATE REP

Protect our health care benefits and bargaining rights.

Call and leave a message with the Sargent-at-Arms for your State Representative about the “Harrison Amendment.” They will ask for your name, phone number, and the town you live in and then for the message. It will take 30 seconds.

When to call?

Monday 3/19 and Tuesday 3/20

What time to call?

Between 7:45am – 4:30pm

What phone number to call?

802.828.2228

What message to leave?

“Please vote NO on the Harrison Amendment to H.911.” Continue reading “Protect Health Care Benefits & Bargaining Rights”