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Legislation to eliminate lower training minimum wage draws criticism

Delaware Public Media

Legislation doing away with a youth and training minimum wage is drawing criticism in the Delaware House.

Democratic State Rep. Kim Williams is sponsoring legislation eliminating a key compromise that helped resolve an end of session impasse last year.

House Republicans, angry about a late-night vote to raise the state’s minimum raise, refused to pass the Bond bill unless a deal was made. That deal was creating the youth and training wage, which allows employers to pay workers under age 18 and those in their first 90 days of starting work 50 cents less an hour.

In a statement, Williams said the lower wage is discriminatory. She said Friday she is currently unable to comment further, citing poor phone reception.

But training wage bill sponsor Mike Ramone argued it helps teens and others get work experience. He calls Williams’ bill politically motivated.

“You make commitments and you keep your commitments," he said. "And I think coming right out of the gate with something like this is extremely partisan. And I just don’t like partisan politics. I never have.”

House Republican leaders said trying to roll it back is a “shameful breach of trust.” Ramone agrees.

“You know, I’m a guy that when you give your word, you normally keep it," he said. "Maybe not everybody in politics thinks like that, but I do.”

Every Democratic state senator and all but three House Democrats are co-sponsoring the bill. House Speaker Pete Schwartzkopf, Joint Finance Chair Quinn Johnson and Rep. William Bush are not. Bush chairs the Economic Development, Banking and Insurance Committee.

The minimum wage bill raised the state’s rate to $8.75 on Jan 1st and will move it to $9.25 on Oct. 1st.

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