Governor Dennis Daugaard writes veto letters explaining why he rejects a handful of bills from the Legislature, but he usually doesn’t provide signing letters telling why he supports the vast majority of bills the Legislature lays on his desk.
An eager reader has obtained a signing letter from the Governor on Senate Bill 177, the youth minimum wage.
Let’s go line by line on the central paragraph:
After much consideration, I decided to sign Senate Bill 177 into law. In order to be successful later in life, it is important for our youth to have the opportunity to work and gain experience [Governor Dennis Daugaard, letter, 2015.03.31].
Many people need opportunities and experience. Are you saying we can justify dropping the minimum wage for every first-time worker? Shall we just put everyone on unpaid internship until they sprout grey hair? And don’t we already provide these “opportunities” with the 90-day training wage, available for every worker under age 20 while he or she figures out which end of the mop is which?
This bill will expand entry-level opportunities for our young people and give businesses another option [Daugaard, 2015.03.31].
But are we justified in “expanding entry-level opportunities” by creating a class of employees whom we can exploit with substandard wages? Remember the training wage. We’re not expanding any opportunities. Employers can already create more entry-level positions with the training wage to help young workers get their first workplace experience; the youth minimum wage simply beats up on workers who can’t vote.
I do not believe Senate bill 177 defies the will of the voters who by a five percent margin approved the minimum wage increases in the fall [Daugaard, 2015.03.31].
Governor Daugaard, are things so bad you have to resort to your own math? The vote on Initiated Measure 18 last November was 55.05% to 44.95%. That’s a 10.1% margin. It’s just like when I write about your big win last November: I don’t say you won by a 20% margin; I add your over 50 and Susan Wismer’s under 50 and say, “Holy cow! Daugaard won his election by a historic 45% margin!” If I tried to say otherwise, you would dispatch your chief of staff to laugh at me, and I’d deserve it.
But what’s your point here, Governor? Are you trying to say the will of the voters isn’t really sacred if the vote is close? Are you saying that any initiative that passes with less than (pick number from hat) 60% is open to Legislative tinkering, but anything that passes with more is not? What Dungeons and Dragons addendum are you composing on the spot to justify throwing your dodecahedral dice at the initiative?
The campaign for the minimum wage increase focused on adult workers who support a household—not on teenagers who, in almost every case, still live at home [Daugaard, 2015.03.31].
From his own math to his own facts: Governor Daugaard appears to be suffering the same amnesia SB 177 sponsor David Novstrup feigned at the March 7 NSU crackerbarrel, when he tried to pretend the press had never covered the argument about youth jobs. We had this discussion. Voters heard this argument. They still voted for a minimum wage increase for everyone.
And if teenagers still live at home, does their income not support the household? Are they not paying for food, gasoline, car insurance, clothes, and other household items? Are their earnings not freeing up other income streams in the house for other purchases?
Poor Senator Novstrup has to rustle up some new arguments to defend his youth minimum wage before the Aberdeen City Council tomorrow night. Governor Daugaard evidently has no help to offer.