Thursday May 15, 2003
For Immediate Release
For Information Contact:
Jennifer F. Brislin
Patrick H. Neely
Metro Council Democrats passed a bill tonight that will break the budget and the only hope for taxpayers is a mayoral veto, Metro Council Republicans said. The living wage ordinance -- sponsored by all 15 Democrat council members -- cost taxpayers at least $4.6 million.
“Once again, a living wage bill has passed that has a multi-million dollar price tag,” said District 16 Councilman Kelly Downard, who also is chair of the Republican Caucus. “Supporters of the original living wage bill passed last year claimed it had a minimal impact. We found out from the independent internal auditor that the old plan would cost the city $67 million. Now, supporters of the new living wage plan make the same claims. However, we estimate the new plan will cost at least $4.6 million per year. The mayor is preparing a budget that already has a $20 million shortfall. He is already laying off workers. He must veto this bad public policy.”
Councilman Hal Heiner, R-District 19, sponsored an alternative to living wage called W-5. The ordinance was focused on improving education and training of government employees while not artificially raising their wages.
“The W-5 plan was the only bill with bipartisan support,” Heiner said. “We worked very hard to craft a bill that would help lower-income Metro Government employees without giving artificial raises to higher-income workers and without being fiscally irresponsible.
“Instead, the Democrats passed a bill that will lead to tax increases, drastic cuts in services or massive layoffs. Tonight, this meeting looked like a rerun of the old Board of Aldermen, with the exception of the 11 Republicans who stood against the old way of doing things.”
The new living wage ordinance plan passed 15-11, strictly along party lines. The W-5 plan received all 11 Republican votes and one Democrat vote.
In addition, Democrat council members mentioned five times during the meeting that they intend to come back next year and raise the wage even higher.
Mayor Jerry Abramson will have to decide whether to veto the new living wage plan or sign it into law.
Julie Raque Adams (R) 18
Stuart Benson (R) 20
Ellen Call (R) 26
Kelly Downard (R) 16
Robin Engel (R) 22
Kenneth C. Fleming (R) 7
Doug Hawkins (R) 25
Hal Heiner (R) 19
Kevin Kramer (R) 11
James Peden (R) 23
Glen Stuckel (R) 17