Boston's Morning Newsletter
After $15, what's next for the Mass. minimum wage?
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Hope you’re enjoying the “spring of deception.” While we’ll likely break temperature records today, we will be back in the 20s before you know it. Before you get outside, let’s hit the news:
The Massachusetts minimum wage reached $15-an-hour last month, the final step of a nearly decade-long “Fight for 15.” However, the group that led the fight isn’t content to stop there. With inflation eating into the gains seen by low-wage workers, the Raise Up coalition is mulling their next move. The question is whether they have enough willing partners on Beacon Hill or have to take the issue to the ballot.
- The problem: Some advocates say $15-an-hour isn’t enough in such an expensive state. According to MIT, the “living wage” here for a single earner with no kids is $21.35 an hour. And the recent 5% increase in the minimum wage (from $14.25 to $15) was less than the inflation rate last year, meaning it actually lost buying power. “It took nearly $18 in November 2022 to buy what $15 bought in June 2018,” Raise Up spokesman Andrew Farnitano said, citing the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics.
- Go deeper: Radio Boston recently got into the weeds on the gap between the minimum and living wage in Massachusetts.
- The solution? Farnitano says his group is “fully committed” to winning another increase to the minimum wage and — most importantly — tying the next move to inflation so new action isn’t required for an increase each year. While they haven’t settled on the exact number yet, Raise Up has been urging lawmakers in the meantime to support a pair of bills that would raise the state’s minimum wage to $20-an-hour by 2027 and tie it to inflation after that.
- Zoom out: Over a dozen states already link their minimum wage to inflation, including California and Washington — the only two states with floors higher than Massachusetts.
- Ask the Gov.: When asked about raising the minimum wage yesterday on Radio Boston, Gov. Maura Healey said she’s more focused right now on how the budget and tax relief can help residents deal with rising costs.
- Healey also broke news yesterday that her tax relief plan will be unveiled, along with her budget proposal, on March 1. Read more about what to expect in the package here.
- What’s next: If lawmakers don’t seem willing to pass another minimum wage increase, Raise Up could decide to organize a 2024 ballot question. (The group’s potential 2018 ballot question was what nudged legislators to raise the wage to $15.) But that call won’t be made until later this spring or summer.
Cambridge officials are renewing a plan to equip police officers with body cameras as part of a larger review of the department’s protocols, following last month’s fatal shooting of college student Sayed Faisal. (According to The Boston Globe, the city first discussed a police body camera plan in 2020, but the initiative later stalled.)
- Reality check: Police body cams remain the exception to the rule in Massachusetts. While Boston and some other local cities have deployed the equipment, only a dozen or so of the state’s roughly 480 law enforcement agencies had done so as of 2021.
The state’s flagship public university could soon have its first Latino leader. UMass President Marty Meehan is recommending Javier Reyes, the interim chancellor of the University of Illinois Chicago, to be appointed the next UMass Amherst chancellor.
- Following a 108-candidate search, the UMass Board of Trustees is scheduled to vote on the recommendation this morning.
Are you or your child due for a new COVID booster? Would you like to pocket $75? Well, you’re in luck. Massachusetts health officials are extending the state’s Get Boosted program through the end of March thanks to “popular demand.”
- The program offers any Bay Stater who gets a shot at select clinics a $75 gift card to a local supermarket or big box store.
- There are over 400 walk-in clinics on the schedule. (That’s right, no appointments are required.) Read the full list here.
P.S.— The Acoustic Nomads are back at CitySpace tonight as part of our Sound On concert series. Come on down at 7 p.m. for a night of pan-American jazz from the Boston-based acoustic quartet. You can still snag both premiere and general tickets here!