Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Cul'v'er & Nussle duking it out on the minimum wage

Is this election year going to turn on issues like the minimum wage increase? It could be, and to that end, yesterday’s dueling gubernatorial candidate comments on the need to raise the minimum wage is the first round on the issue.

Culver’s take:

… Culver, Iowa’s secretary of state, said he would make it one of his top priorities to raise the state minimum wage to $7.25 per hour if he is elected governor. “Hard-working Iowans and their families can’t afford to wait any longer,” he said. …

…Culver spoke today at a new conference at Iowa Federation of Labor's headquarters in Des Moines. He argued that Nussle’s salary in Congress has risen $30,000 in the past decade, while the last minimum-wage increase was in 1997. He said Iowa should join the 20 states that have raised their minimum wages above the federal minimum.

“In a Culver administration, raising the minimum wage will be one of the first bills that we propose,” Culver said. “In contrast, Congressman Nussle won’t raise the Iowa minimum wage and he’s failed to support a real minimum wage increase during his time in Washington.” (DMR)

Got it. Culver will raise the minimum wage. Period. He will not use the issue to leverage additional proactive small business policy, just the minimum wage.

Nussle’s take:

…GOP gubernatorial opponent Jim Nussle gave qualified support to a minimum wage hike if accompanied by financial help for affected small businesses.

"There is no debate on this issue -- increasing the minimum wage for Iowa's working families is overdue and will help ensure that no one falls through the cracks,'' Nussle said. "Hard-working Iowans who have played by the rules, but struggled to get ahead, deserve a fair wage so they can provide for their families.'' … (CR Gazette)

Nussle’s on board. He’ll raise the minimum wage, but he wants more. This sounds typical, although in a state with crushing business property taxes, he’s right to tie in the minimum wage issue with other issues, such as property tax reform, that will help small businesses make their increased minimum wage payrolls.

Fast forward to January, in a Culver administration we’ll get a minimum wage bill and not much else in the way of immediate help for small businesses. This is particularly true if Democratic Senator Joe Bolkcom is chair of Ways & Means. Joe’s never been a big fan of tax relief and is probably the major reason that HF 825 the House passed version of property tax reform didn’t make it out of the Senate Ways & Means. Under Culver, we’d get a minimum wage increase but not much tax relief for small businesses.

If Nussle is living at Terrace Hill, we can expect a minimum wage bill tied to a package of policy reforms aimed at helping Iowa small businesses. It’s clear Nussle will leverage the minimum wage issue to improve Iowa’s small business climate. I’ll guess that property tax reform is on the top of that policy list, right up there with a minimum wage increase.

I suppose Republicans are starting to see the importance of thinking about workers and business owners as a team. You need to improve the quality of life of both of these constituencies if we want to improve Iowa’s overall quality of life.

And it probably doesn’t hurt that David Broder put out a column aptly titled “Simmering Rage Within the GOP” that focused attention on an old guard Republican’s frustration at a Party that doesn’t seem to understand the need to be fair, at least on occasion.

That's "Drinkin'" Joe Bolkcom.
I'm not sure what that means, like his own brand of powdered drink mix?
The economy in Iowa under a Gov. Culver would drop faster than Monica Lewsinsky on pizza night at the White House.
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