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Minimum wage increase fails in State Senate

Delaware Public Media

Legislation hiking Delaware’s minimum wage failed in state Senate Tuesday by one vote. But passing relief for casinos could revive the bill’s prospects.

Legislation sponsored by Democratic State Sen. Robert Marshall would raise the state’s minimum wage from $8.25 an hour to $8.75 an hour starting this fall and take it to $9.25 in October 2019.

But because every Republican senator opposed the bill, Marshall needed every Democratic vote and Dover-area State Sen. Brian Bushweller choose not to vote.

Bushweller, a longtime champion for the casino industry, said it’s unfair for the state to take 43 percent of the revenue the three casinos generate. Increasing the minimum wage on top of that could drive a casino out of business. So he said he’ll trade his vote on the minimum wage for casino tax relief.

“That was just a little signal that I’m not necessarily opposed to a minimum wage," he said. "I think a lot of people who voted no today don’t like the minimum wage at all. I don’t have a problem with the minimum wage. I just think the minimum wage has to reflect the circumstances I just described.”

This could be the last chance for Bushweller to change the revenue sharing structure for casinos before he retires this year. And he’s been trying to get Gov. John Carney to help broker a deal.

“If we fix the casino issue and we stop taking so much money away from them, then there they would be just like any other business able to sustain or not sustain based on factors specific to them,” Bushweller said.

Marshall says he’s disappointed in Bushweller’s vote, but hopes the legislation will be reconsidered before session ends.

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