Democrats Seek to Abolish Training Wage in Delaware - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Democrats Seek to Abolish Training Wage in Delaware

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If approved, minimum wage would increase to $15.00 in Delaware If approved, minimum wage would increase to $15.00 in Delaware
DOVER, Del. (AP) - Democratic lawmakers on Thursday introduced a bill to eliminate a new training wage in Delaware, a Republican proposal that they had agreed to last year to break a budget stalemate.

The move comes just two weeks after the start of this year's legislative session, a time usually marked by expressions of congeniality and espousals of hopes that lawmakers will be able to work in a bipartisan fashion over the next six months.

"If Democratic lawmakers move forward on this bill, it will be a shameful breach of trust," said House Minority Leader Danny Short, R-Seaford.

The training wage was proposed by Rep. Mike Ramone, a Newark Republican. It came after Democrats, who control both chambers of the General Assembly, had rammed through a minimum-wage increase in the middle of the night on the final day of last year's session with no GOP support.

Angry Republicans responded by withholding support for a key budget bill that needed their votes to pass.

The stalemate eventually led to Democrats agreeing to delay implementation of the minimum wage increase and to support Ramone's proposal to allow employers to pay minors and adult probationary workers a lower training wage. That wage could be 50 cents less per hour than the new $8.75 an hour minimum wage.

"We went through a long process, we all negotiated, we came up with a resolution to get through the end of last year," said Ramone, who was given no notice that Democrats were planning to torpedo the deal.

"I'm a guy that, when you give your word, you normally keep it. Maybe not everybody in politics thinks that way," added Ramone. ".... You make commitments and you keep your commitments, and I think coming right out of the gates with something like this is extremely partisan."

Rep. Kim Williams, chief House sponsor of the bill to repeal the training wage, said paying someone less than the minimum wage solely because they are under 18 or a new hire is unfair and discriminatory.

"I've had time since session ended to reflect on that, and I feel that Delaware should not allow this discriminatory practice to continue," said Williams, D-Newport.

Williams' bill would abolish the youth wage as of Jan. 1, 2020, and end the probationary training wage for adults 90 days after it is signed into law.

The bill is sponsored by 35 of the 38 Democrats in the legislature, including 25 who were members of last year's General Assembly.

"They already broke faith last year when they tried to ram their minimum wage bill through the legislature in the middle of the night while most of the state slept," Short said. "Reneging on the reasonable compromise we struck to end that impasse will destroy their credibility with us."
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