Fmr. State Senator and Gubernatorial candidate returns to Concord to pursue middle-class agenda
(Barrington, NH) After a four-year absence from the New Hampshire General Court, newly-returned Barrington representative Jackie Cilley announced that her first piece of legislation - and her chief priority in the coming session - is to give New Hampshire's struggling workers a raise with an increased minimum wage paired with the elimination of the so-called "tipped minimum wage." This legislation would mark a return to a state-based minimum wage and move tipped workers into the economic mainstream with a raise from the current rate of $2.90.
Cilley, whose legislation would raise the minimum wage to $14.25 per hour over a three year-period and eventually tie the tipped minimum wage to the same figure, argues the move from both a matter of fairness and economic common sense.
“Most of us want to get paid what we are worth, what we contribute to the companies and organizations for whom we work,” notes Cilley. “If the minimum wage had actually kept pace with worker productivity, it would be $21.72 today. Instead, workers’ wages peaked decades ago because of partisan divide.”
“Conservatives and progressives should both want to see the creation of livable wages. Set aside for a moment the argument of fairness to workers and just consider what each of us is paying to help an employer keep a worker at sub-livable wages. These workers can’t actually live on those wages. They often need such support services as food stamps, fuel assistance, housing assistance and so on. If the minimum wage were raised to just $10.10 per hour that would mean 1.7 million people across this country would no longer need public assistance, saving us $7.6 billion. I don’t yet have the exact figures for this for New Hampshire, but simply pro-rating it per capita suggests a savings of more than $30 million.”
"This is long overdue: They were one vote away from making a substantial start in the last session and I want to keep that momentum moving, regardless of the partisan makeup of the new legislature," Cilley said. "This doesn't have to be a partisan issue - Mitt Romney supports an increased minimum wage, for example - but we have to make the case on economic, not just fairness grounds."
"Bill O'Brien's decision to put what New Hampshire businesses pay their workers in the hands of bureaucrats in Washington, DC was terrible choice. We need to have a minimum wage that reflects the economy and values of New Hampshire, not DC - This legislation puts the decision back where it belongs, in New Hampshire."
Legislation pushed by then-Speaker Bill O’Brien repealed the state’s minimum wage law in 2011 and handed jurisdiction to the federal government. Gov. Lynch vetoed the legislation, but O’Brien’s allies in the House overrode the veto. The National Employment Law Project’s Christine Owens said at the time that “given the fact that minimum wage workers spend every penny they earn in their local businesses, a strong wage floor is also vital to stimulating the consumer spending necessary for real and lasting economic recovery.”
These economic facts of life haven’t changed. A study released in March of 2014 by the New Hampshire Fiscal Policy Institute echoes Owens words.
“Most notably, raising the minimum wage will increase demand for the goods and services sold by businesses operating in the Granite State. Low-wage workers, out of necessity, typically spend every dollar that they earn. As a result, the increased wages they will earn from a higher minimum wage will almost certainly be spent – and most likely be spent quickly – in the communities in which they live and work.”
About Jackie Cilley: Born in Berlin, New Hampshire, Jackie Cilley was raised with four siblings in a third-floor walk-up tenement before graduating from Berlin High School. She earned bachelor's and master's degrees from UNH and has served as an adjunct professor at the Whittemore School of Business and Economics since matriculating from there in 1985. In 2004 she ran for a seat in the New Hampshire House of Representatives and won, serving one term in the House before being elected twice to the New Hampshire Senate, representing the 6th District from 2006 - 2010. In 2012, she ran an unsuccessful campaign for the Democratic nomination for Governor, losing to Gov. Hassan. She was re-elected to the New Hampshire House in 2014 where she serves on the Committee on Executive Departments and Administration. Rep. Cilley was recently named by veteran NH political reporter John DiStaso as one of the "'Most wanted' NH Democrats for the 2016 presidential campaign.”