Lead Republicans on labor committee: Training wage is about addressing youth unemployment, not political statements

Lead Republicans on the House Labor and Workforce Development Committee responded today to House Democrats who held a press conference to introduce a House Joint Memorial that would create a “training wage” for freshman members of the Legislature. Rep. Matt Manweller, ranking Republican on the committee, was highly critical of the gesture.

“Democratic control in Washington has resulted in 17 percent unemployment rates for white youth in our state and a staggering 37 percent unemployment rate for African-American youth. Now, as Republicans try to clean up the mess their union-dominated policies have created, they offer nothing but symbolic resolutions,” said Manweller, R-Ellensburg. “I am sure it is a tongue-in-cheek gesture, but tell that to the unemployed youth who want to have a job. I think this stunt shows their economic ignorance.”

Rep. Cary Condotta, who has served as the ranking Republican on the committee the eight years before Manweller, said he was tired about the misinformation and spin being put on the training wage issue.

“The training wage does not reduce anyone’s wages. The proposed legislation, which we have agreed to limit to the 17 to 19 age range, is simply trying to address high teen unemployment, and getting a training wage in place to encourage some of our smaller employers to hire and train new employees,” said Condotta, R-East Wenatchee. “I would like to see some meaningful solutions from the other side. I guess if they are going to offer tongue-in-cheek memorials they do not have any solutions or do not understand the economics of this issue.”

Manweller was also quick to point out Rep. Mike Sells seems more interested in making political statements rather than working on the issues.

“The chair apparently called this a political move to make a point,” said Manweller. “However, I fail to see the point in perpetuating economic policies that have created systemically high unemployment rates for our minority populations. House Republicans are working on solutions and House Democrats are holding press conferences because they don’t have any solutions to the unemployment problems they caused. It’s particularly frustrating that they are ignoring basic economic principles. Almost anyone can look at the data and see that there is a correlation between high entry-level minimum wages and high youth unemployment. Washington’s high unemployment rates show that there are consequences to economic ignorance that cannot be relieved by a political stunt.”

Condotta echoed Manweller’s concerns.

“All we want to do is come up with some solutions that would put more people back to work, in this case our youth. I have seen this firsthand with my own kids. No one is hiring teenagers at the current minimum wage,” Condotta said. “All I see coming out of the labor committee are bills that increase costs on employers – bills to punish independent contractors, require mandatory sick leave, paid family leave and more. How about one bill from the majority that has bipartisan support and will truly increase job opportunity?”

Condotta’s training wage bill, House Bill 1150, did not survive the cutoff. However, the companion bill, Senate Bill 5275, is still alive. Condotta said those not familiar with the bill really need to understand it and the sideboards that are in place.


Washington State House Republican Communications