2018-09-14 / Letters

Candidate sees the ‘big picture’ of every vote cast

To the editor,

On the surface, simply raising the minimum wage seems like a reasonable idea. Looking at it in a vacuum without considering unintended consequences, it would appear the more we raise minimum wage, the greater people increase their standard of living. But below the surface there are underlying currents churning when we raise the minimum wage; especially at the rate in which we are moving, that we ought not ignore when making an informed decision. Maine state Sen. Amy Volk understands the minimum wage was too low.

If you look at her record and learn more about her efforts, you will find she has consistently fought to increase our minimum wage. However, she wants to do so at a controlled pace helping Mainers while also supporting the needs of businesses around the state – most of which would be happy to pay new proposed rates provided they do not increase 60 percent in just three short years.

Volk continually works across the aisle to secure legislation benefitting everyone. She often says, “If everybody is a little happy and everybody is a little ticked off, we probably created a pretty good law.”

She knows poet John Lydgate was right (as made famous by Abraham Lincoln) when he said, “You can please some of the people all of the time, you can please all of the people some of the time, but you can’t please all of the people all of the time.”

The obstacle she repeatedly runs into time and time again, is folks on the other side of the aisle completely unwilling to cooperate, negotiate, or consider anything other than raising the minimum wage by $1 per year.

The unintended consequences from this proposal are often overlooked. Sure, businesses and greater Portland, even most of Cumberland and York counties might be able to get by because the fact is, most of them pay well above minimum wage anyway.

Competition for good people requires it. However, in the rural parts of Maine, the majority of our great state, small businesses like local convenience stores, gift shops, and small manufacturers struggle with such a pay scale. Often overlooked is the concept of compression.

When the minimum wage increases, all pay within an organization follows suit to stay in scale and avoid inequities among seasoned supervisory employees and newer ones.

This has forced many of these small businesses to either cut back on the hours they employ people, work significantly more hours a week themselves or simply change the operating hours of the business so they’re not open as much. Cutting back hours saves the business money but it stops revenue completely.

Volk is aware of all of these impacts to a sharply escalating minimum wage. She has family roots in rural Maine and owns property there. She understands her vote in Augusta cannot be cast thinking only of how it may impact the people of Cumberland County; she also must consider the impact to the overall state economy.

It is down here in the growing and prosperous part of Maine we cannot forget we are all one Maine, so if it negatively impacts some Mainers, it impacts all Mainers.

Volk is one of the most effective legislators I’ve known when it comes to seeing the big picture of every vote she casts. We need more big-picture thinkers in politics. We need more big-picture thinkers in Augusta.

We need Sen. Amy Volk back in the Maine state senate.

Jere G. Michelson

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