- Associated Press - Thursday, February 13, 2020

MONTPELIER, Vt. (AP) - The Vermont Senate voted Thursday to override Republican Gov. Phil Scott’s veto of a bill that would increase the minimum wage to $12.55 over the next two years.

The vote in the Democrat-controlled Senate was 24-6 vote in favor of the veto override, which happened the first day the chamber was eligible to vote on Scott’s Monday veto.

It’s unclear when the House, which also has a Democratic majority, will vote on the bill. The original minimum wage bill did not pass the House with the two-thirds margin that would be needed to override the governor’s veto.

Last week, the House failed by one vote to override Scott’s veto of a bill that would have set up a government-funded paid family leave system.

Proponents of the minimum wage increase, which would go from $10.96 to $12.55 over the next two years, say the bump would put $5,000 more into the pockets of about 40,000 low-income Vermonters.

In his veto message, Scott said raising the minimum wage to $12.55 by 2022 could end up hurting the people it is intended to help.

Republican Sen. Randy Brock sided with Scott and said the minimum wage increase would cost the Vermont economy $121 million.

“Yes, it will put some money back in the pockets of people, that $121 million, but there is a cost,” Brock said. “The issue I never hear talked about is who is going to pay that cost.”

But Democratic State Sen. Michael Sirotkin, pushed back against that.

“I would like to ask our 40,000 fellow Vermonters, who are struggling to make ends meet and who’d have upwards of $5,000 more in their pockets, if they agree,” Sirotkin said.

The veto was Scott’s 18th since he took office in 2017. None have been overridden by the Legislature.

The minimum wage bill was a scaled-down version of 2018 minimum wage bill also vetoed by the governor that would have gradually increased the wage to $15 an hour.

Sen. President Pro Tem, Tim Ashe, a Democrat and Progressive, was clearly frustrated by the governor’s veto of the minimum wage bill and the earlier paid family leave veto. He said that ideally the governor’s office and the Legislature would work together to reach compromise agreements on such issues so that vetoes and veto override votes wouldn’t be needed.

“Today that option is not available to us,” Ashe said during the Senate floor debate that preceded the vote.

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