Minimum Wage Increase Passes
Senate with Tax Relief for Small Businesses
February 01, 2007
(SitNews) The Fair Minimum Wage Act of 2007, a bill that
will raise the minimum wage to $7.25 an hour in three increments
over a two-year period passed the Senate today 94-3. Also included
in the bill was a series of tax relief considerations for small
businesses to help them continue to grow and create jobs. Senate
Democrats yielded to Republican demands to include tax breaks
for small businesses to help cover the cost of increasing the
The House of Representatives
voted on January 10th to increase the federal minimum wage from
$5.15 an hour to $7.25 per hour in three $.70 increments over
a two year span and sent the bill on to the Senate for their
approval. From there, it will go to President Bush for signing
which would enact it into federal law.
The Congressional Budget Office
estimates this minimum wage increase will impose $4 billion in
new costs on the private sector in 2009 and $5.7 billion in 2010,
with costs increasing at roughly $5 billion per year thereafter.
Small businesses will incur the bulk of these costs and could
have been forced to lay off workers if offsets were not provided.
Senator Ted Stevens (R-Alaska) voted for The Fair Minimum Wage
Act of 2007. "An increase in the minimum wage is overdue
in this country. However, we couldn't just raise the minimum
wage - we had to make sure our legislation would not harm small
businesses, which play such a vital role in the economy of our
State and the nation," said Senator Stevens. "The bill
we passed today will protect these businesses and increase the
wages paid to millions of hard-working Americans. It's a win-win
for them and our State's small businesses."
Senator Stevens joined Senator John Sununu (R-N.H.) in championing
a key amendment that was included in the legislation passed today.
This provision, which was approved unanimously, would create
a new three-year grant program to prevent the closure and defunding
of Women's Business Centers (WBCs). The lack of federal matching
dollars in the WBC program threatens the continued operation
of many centers. Without a fix, certain WBCs, including those
in Alaska, will lose eligibility for sustainability program funding
in Fiscal Year 2008.
The program would provide graduating centers between $90,000
and $150,000 in matching federal funds per fiscal year for operating
expenses and leverage to raise private-sector dollars; give existing
WBCs priority application status over first-time applicants;
and finance the new three-year grants through the WBC program's
current funding level. The amendment accomplishes this at no
additional cost to the American taxpayer.
"These centers provide
Alaskan women with critical training and counseling in finance,
management, marketing, and other important skill areas,"
said Senator Stevens. "In particular, the specialized programs
that target rural home-based entrepreneurs benefit many women
in Alaska. Given the program's track record of meeting the needs
of local small businesses started or owned by women, we must
ensure this program continues to be funded."
As of January 01, 2003, the
minimum wage for Alaska is currently $7.15 per hour, except for
a person employed as a school bus driver, who receives at least
two times the Alaska minimum wage.
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