EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Boston and Beyond

January 14, 2014

Coakley faults GOP's Baker on minimum wage

BOSTON (AP) — Democratic candidate for governor Martha Coakley is faulting Republican gubernatorial hopeful Charlie Baker for failing to endorse a hike in the state’s minimum wage.

In an email to supporters Monday, Coakley pointed to comments that Baker made during a recent address to the North Central Massachusetts Chamber of Commerce declining to back a proposal to raise the hourly wage to $11 in Massachusetts.

Coakley, the state attorney general, is one of several Democrats backing the measure.

“He not only said he doesn’t believe we should raise the minimum wage, but that he would actually slash the minimum for some workers,” Coakley said in the email. “This is the difference between how Charlie and I would govern.”

A spokesman for Baker called Coakley’s email “a politically motivated attack” and “patently false.”

“Charlie’s position remains clear: He is open to an increase in the minimum wage but thinks we may be able to do better for low-income workers by exploring increases in the earned income tax credit and enacting reforms that protect workers’ hours and create new jobs,” Baker spokesman Tim Buckley said in response to Coakley’s email.

Baker declined last week to back a proposal to raise the hourly wage to $11 in Massachusetts and proposed a special lower minimum wage for teenagers and training level workers.

“It’s usually set somewhere between 60 and 80 percent of what the minimum wage is,” Baker told the chamber, according to The Sentinel and Enterprise.

Baker also argued that increasing the minimum wage would reduce the number of employees a business can hire and the number of hours it could afford to have employees work, according to the paper.

Baker has previously suggested that he could support an increase in the minimum wage if it was tied to changes in the state’s unemployment insurance system.

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