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Biz Group May Be Open To Mass. Minimum Wage Hike

The council demonstrated its clout earlier this year as one of the business groups that successfully lobbied the Legislature to repeal the "tech tax," a short-lived sales tax on computer and software services.

"I think the lesson on the tech tax was that if we pursue policies that provide negative consequences to our ability to grow and retain jobs in Massachusetts, that's a problem for our overall competitiveness," Anderson said.

The minimum wage has gone unchanged since 2008, leaving many low-paid workers in poverty, advocates of a higher wage say.

The state, meanwhile, has frozen unemployment insurance rates paid by employers for the past four years as a patch against adding further business costs.

DeLeo has publicly signaled support for unemployment insurance reform, as have Senate President Therese Murray and Gov. Deval Patrick. But the Democratic leaders have yet to fashion a specific plan, and obstacles remain to compromise in the current legislative session.

Sen. Dan Wolf, D-Harwich said he is among those who would prefer to see the minimum wage and unemployment insurance issues tackled separately, rather than in a single package.

"The more complex you make a bill, the more difficult it is for it to emerge as final legislation," said Wolf, a strong backer of the Senate minimum wage bill.

Looming over the debate is a proposed ballot question that would raise the minimum wage to $10.50 per hour in two years. Steve Crawford, a spokesman for the Raise Up Massachusetts coalition, said the group expects to deliver nearly 150,000 signatures to the Secretary of State next month in the hopes of placing the question on the November 2014 ballot.

Crawford said he would not speculate on what the Legislature might do in the interim.

Copyright 2011 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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