Duenas: lawmakers shouldn't rush into minimum wage increase - KUAM.com-KUAM News: On Air. Online. On Demand.

Duenas: lawmakers shouldn't rush into minimum wage increase

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by Ken Quintanilla

Guam - The debate on the minimum wage isn't ending anytime soon especially as another set of hearings is scheduled for next week. But at least one senator is saying for now its best to push the pause button on the issue.

Senator Chris Duenas says when it comes to raising the minimum wage, the community needs to vet the issue more. "The business community has spoken loudly, I think they're going to be speak loudly again this next Wednesday that the effect of this is overwhelming, I think what we should do is slow this thing down," he said.

It was on Wednesday when the first public hearing was held on Vice Speaker BJ Cruz's Bill 316 proposing to raise the minimum wage by $0.95 over the next three years. In order to provide a balanced approach, Duenas and the Republican minority introduced a companion measure aimed at providing some relief to businesses as a result of unintended consequences attached to the wage hike. He's since received feedback on his Bill 323. "This morning I received communication from GEDA that the portion for the Dave Santos amendment exemption graduation is not going to work because of the fact the bond counsel says it will be in violation of our bond agreements but the one percent of the four percent overall GRT is still in play," he said.

The Dave Santos amendment involved increasing certain Business Privilege Tax exemptions from 40-75%. Duenas says he'll delete that section but keep the first proposal to reduce Gross Receipt Taxes to 3.8%, which he says will still help. "I know when we offered the tax relief it was because the businesses were telling us just through the introduction of this bill (Bill 316) that this was really going to hurt 0706 we really want to help the little guy," he said.

Duenas however says given the grave concerns expressed by the business community over the wage proposal, it would probably be best to do more research, noting, "I know there's a (Committee on Rules) meeting on May 2. I would hope none of these bills make it to that rules meeting because I think they're just not ready," he said.

During Wednesday's public hearing meeting, GHRA even suggested that an independent economic study was needed adding much of what's being discussed nationwide is still premature. "Let's help the little guy, lets provide job opportunities through training, education and skills development, but on this minimum wage I think we need to keep talking about it, because I don't think it's a done deal anywhere 0850 so we shouldn't rush into this as well," he said.
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