Wages on minds of business owners at luncheon

 

WYOMING — Residents, business owners and community leaders had a chance to voice their concerns to Gov. Jack Markell during a luncheon at Hall’s Family Restaurant Thursday afternoon.

Rep. Lyndon Yearick, R-Camden, right, organized the question-and-answer session with Gov. Jack Markell. It was held at Hall’s Restaurant in Wyoming. (Delaware State News/Arshon Howard)

Rep. Lyndon Yearick, R-Camden, right, organized the question-and-answer session with Gov. Jack Markell. It was held at Hall’s Restaurant in Wyoming. (Delaware State News/Arshon Howard)

The event was organized by Rep. Lyndon Yearick, R-Camden.

“This is the second year that I put this together,” Rep. Yearick said. “It’s a great opportunity. The governor has been able to come down to meet with some individuals in the community and talk about their concerns.

“People get a chance to share something that’s going well, or to just ask questions,” he said.

“We’re appreciative of his time because I know that’s a challenge.”

While some residents asked about providing more opportunities for college students and business growth throughout the state, the main concern of many was the minimum wage bill.

Next Wednesday, the Economic Development/Banking/Insurance/Commerce committee will review Senate Bill 39, and could release it to the House of Representatives for a full vote or table the matter, pending a majority vote.

Legislation to increase the minimum wage from $8.25 to $10.25 in four 50-cent increments passed the Senate on party lines in January.

With Republicans firm in their opposition, just getting it out of committee would require Democrats sticking together. The Democratic majority has the numbers to pass the bill, but it is no certainty the caucus is all behind it.

Gov. Markell has not taken a stand on the idea yet.

“I listened very carefully when the bill was heard in the Senate,” Gov. Markell said. “I see where it goes in the House and my views on bills like this is get the best possible information.

“I would tell you I haven’t come on one side or the other. There are very strong points on both sides.”

Business owners in attendance all stressed that if the minimum wage increases they would have to get rid of younger employees they may have just hired to give them experience.

They said that instead of hiring inexperienced workers needing training they likely would hire more skilled workers to cut costs.

Gov. Markell said the situation is complicated.

“I do think it’s a little more complicated on whether the federal minimum wage should be raised because what we’re talking about here is creating more of a differential between Delaware and the surrounding states,” he said.

“In the case of Maryland they’ve already voted to increase their minimum wage and in Pennsylvania they haven’t,” Gov. Markell added.

“We’ve already gone up to $8.25 and my job is having the best interest for the people of Delaware.”

Gov. Markell said it’s always great hearing the concerns of constituents.

“The great thing about Delaware is that the elected officials are very accessible and it’s always good to hear from people directly,” he said.

“I think it’s always a good opportunity to hear what’s going on.”

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