Westport Letter: To Solve Income Inequality, Close Education Gap

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State Sen. Toni Boucher
State Sen. Toni Boucher Photo Credit: File

WILTON, Conn. -- The Wilton Daily Voice accepts signed letters to the editor. Send letters to wilton@dailyvoice.com.

To The Editor: 

Embracing a higher minimum wage may be a not so subtle way to deflect public attention away from failing economic policies that have stymied job growth and produced high taxes and business costs in Connecticut. Those policies have led to an unemployment rate of almost 11%, when Connecticut’s shrinking labor force is taken into account.

The oft repeated argument that opponents of a high minimum wage have no compassion for low income workers is entirely false. It also overlooks the reality that the wages of Connecticut’s low income workers are far from their only lifeline.

The state of Connecticut pays 100% of the insurance premiums of low income citizens; it provides food, rental and heating assistance. Low income residents are eligible for the state Earned Income Tax Credit, which they receive in addition to the federal EITC. The EITC is a check distributed each year from taxpayers to residents who work but do not pay income taxes.

Collectively, these benefits amount to more than a minimum wage, but what Connecticut workers want most is a job and educational opportunities that allow them to advance to a higher salary.

The answer to higher income inequality lies not in raising the minimum wage, but in closing the education gap. It is a widely reported and a proven fact that closing the income gap is directly related to higher levels of training and education. Too many good jobs go unfilled in Connecticut and the United States as a whole because we do not have the technically trained labor that exists elsewhere.

The power should reside in the marketplace and not the state house when it comes to wages and labor costs. We need to focus on the real economic multiplier, closing the education gap so that our fellow citizens have the best possible opportunity to succeed.

State Sen. Toni Boucher

Boucher represents the 26th District towns of Bethel, New Canaan, Redding, Ridgefield, Weston, Westport and Wilton.

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