- Associated Press - Friday, January 31, 2020

MONTPELIER, Vt. (AP) - The Vermont Legislature has voted to increase the state’s minimum wage, but all eyes are now on Republican Gov. Phil Scott to see if he will allow the bill to become law.

On Thursday the state Senate gave final approval to the bill that will increase the minimum wage to $12.55 an hour by 2022 from the current $10.96.

Proponents say the increased wage is needed for the approximately 40,000 minimum wage workers in the state.

“If you are a full-time worker working at minimum wage in the state of Vermont over these next two years, you will receive $5,000 more in wages,” said Democratic Sen. Michael Sirotkin. “That’s important to people living at the edge.”

Scott has expressed reservations about the impact the higher wage would have on rural areas. In 2018, Scott vetoed a $15 minimum wage bill.

“A convenience store, let’s say up in Lunenburg, for instance, is far different than the convenience store in downtown Burlington or in Williston or in Shelburne,” Scott said during a Thursday news conference.

He said that Vermont’s record-low unemployment will leave to a growth in wages.

“I believe supply and demand works. I believe wages are rising,” Scott said. “I believe the shortage of labor in Vermont is having an effect on that. … But every region is different economically, and that’s my concern.”

While the governor has expressed his concerns about the bill, he has not yet indicated whether he will veto the proposal.

Sirotkin said wages are not rising.

The current minimum wage bill did not pass the House with a veto-proof majority.

The increase is less than the $15 some Democratic and Progressive lawmakers had sought.

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