Kennebec Valley Chamber

Serving the Kennebec Valley, Maine Region

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Friday Report ~ February 26, 2016

"The Pot O' Gold" - Shortly after my wife Amy and I were married and settled in to our new home with our combined family, we decided to embrace every possible holiday to the fullest. We not only overdid everything on major holidays, we also went big on the minor ones. I played tricks on April Fool’s Day (one of my favorites), waved flags and ate red, white and blue cupcakes on the 4th of July, enjoyed tacos on Cinco de Mayo and even partied to Dixieland during Mardi Gras.

One particular year, we traveled to camp during St. Patty’s Day. Our middle daughter was probably 8 years old and she asked to bring a friend along. Amy and I thought it would be a great idea and off we all went. The night before St. Patty’s Day, the girls went to bed and Amy and I spent an hour laying out all of the goodies that the “Magic Leprechaun” brings. There were green candies, green coins, green jewelry (plastic), green hats and even a treasure hunt for the pot of gold.  The girls had a blast.

Feeling like we had been “the cool parents” we pulled up to the house of our daughter’s friend and walked her to the door. We then handed off a slightly sleep deprived, over sugared, very green child. We were still smiling when the child yelled, “Look at what the magic leprechaun brought, Mommy!”

Now Amy and I consider ourselves to be considerate people, often thinking of others. We failed, however, to see the repercussions of introducing another child to the “Magic Leprechaun.” We had unwittingly forced another family into a corner. They either had to continue the charade or tell the child we had been lying to her about the leprechaun. 

Don’t fret. The other family was fine and I think they kept it up for a few years, but still jokingly give us a hard time for setting them up. I still feel that we should have given them the option. What if they had not had the disposable income for this kind of treat? Or maybe they didn’t feel it was right?

In the world of business, over regulation can often feel the same way. In the Kennebec Valley we have an extremely large number of small businesses who operate on a shoestring budget. These companies are doing their absolute best to make ends meet and provide a living for their employees. The vast majority of employers that I speak to are providing reasonable salaries based on what they can afford and most are paying more than minimum wage. There is a referendum on the ballot this fall that will take steps to increase the minimum wage to $12/hour. This increase will make Maine have the highest minimum wage in the nation. At a time when we are trying to entice employers to do business in Maine, this feels counterproductive.

We agree that there needs to be an adjustment to the minimum wage. The dramatic jump proposed by MPA will prohibit economic growth and will make it increasingly difficult for the small business owners to keep their doors open. For that reason, we at the Kennebec Valley Chamber are encouraging our legislators to place a competing measure on the ballot that has been proposed by the business community. This competing measure would essentially provide for a graduated increase in the minimum wage over the next 4 years, reaching $10/hour in 2020.  

This issue is important to all involved and we feel strongly that the voters need to weigh in on this. We also feel that there should be more than one option on the ballot. Please contact me directly for more information on this issue and reach out to your legislator to let them know how you feel.  Let’s not force the small businesses in the Kennebec Valley to go looking for a pot of gold just to stay open.