Metro

Murray focuses on state’s low wages

Continuing to focus on the need to address how much people earn in Massachusetts, state Senate President Therese Murray blamed low wages for increases in government spending on housing, food, and health care.

“When you don’t make a living wage, government and businesses pay taxes that fill in that gap,” Murray told the Affiliated Chambers of Commerce of Greater Springfield Wednesday afternoon. “So when you say government has grown too large, what you’re getting is government is paying for day care, for subsidized day care, for subsidized meals at school, breakfast, lunch, and dinners, and after-school programs.

Advertisement

“We’re paying for MassHealth and Medicaid. We’re paying for transportation. We’re paying for subsidized housing. We’re paying for fuel assistance in conjunction with the federal government. So you’re paying it anyway.”

Murray said a minimum-wage worker earns $16,704 annually, below the federal poverty line and well below the $28,500 she said is required for someone to be economically independent in Massachusetts. Murray asked the business people gathered in the Senate Reading Room for feedback on the ­issue, but received no questions.

Get Fast Forward in your inbox:
Forget yesterday's news. Get what you need today in this early-morning email.
Thank you for signing up! Sign up for more newsletters here

Asked on her way out of the room whether she had an idea of where the minimum wage should be, Murray said “not at the moment,” but said that would be part of the discussion.

“I’ve been meeting with lots of people who have a great interest in talking about it,” Murray said, mentioning that she had met with Catholic Charities on Tuesday.

The Senate president, who helped steer a $500 million tax proposal to pay for transportation through the upper chamber earlier this month, said, “We plan to propose a number of changes” to unemployment insurance, which she described as a “considerable hardship to businesses.”

Advertisement

Year after year, the Legislature has frozen unemployment insurance rates, blocking planned increases in a bid to ease the costs facing businesses recovering from the recession. Murray said the system should be “more sensitive” toward different types of employment, including seasonal employment.

While hailing a 23 percent growth in the manufacturing industry in Massachusetts from 2009 to 2011 and the lowest unemployment rate since November 2008, Murray said some parts of the state are still struggling.

“We know unemployment is still high in some areas of the Commonwealth, including Springfield,” Murray said.

Loading comments...
You're reading  1 of 5 free articles.
Get UNLIMITED access for only 99¢ per week Subscribe Now >
You're reading1 of 5 free articles.Keep scrolling to see more articles recomended for you Subscribe now
We hope you've enjoyed your 5 free articles.
Continue reading by subscribing to Globe.com for just 99¢.
 Already a member? Log in Home
Subscriber Log In

We hope you've enjoyed your 5 free articles'

Stay informed with unlimited access to Boston’s trusted news source.

  • High-quality journalism from the region’s largest newsroom
  • Convenient access across all of your devices
  • Today’s Headlines daily newsletter
  • Subscriber-only access to exclusive offers, events, contests, eBooks, and more
  • Less than 25¢ a week
Marketing image of BostonGlobe.com
Marketing image of BostonGlobe.com
Already a subscriber?
Your city. Your stories. Your Globe.
Yours FREE for two weeks.
Enjoy free unlimited access to Globe.com for the next two weeks.
Limited time only - No credit card required!
BostonGlobe.com complimentary digital access has been provided to you, without a subscription, for free starting today and ending in 14 days. After the free trial period, your free BostonGlobe.com digital access will stop immediately unless you sign up for BostonGlobe.com digital subscription. Current print and digital subscribers are not eligible for the free trial.
Thanks & Welcome to Globe.com
You now have unlimited access for the next two weeks.
BostonGlobe.com complimentary digital access has been provided to you, without a subscription, for free starting today and ending in 14 days. After the free trial period, your free BostonGlobe.com digital access will stop immediately unless you sign up for BostonGlobe.com digital subscription. Current print and digital subscribers are not eligible for the free trial.