“If I were to sign this bill into law, it would do nothing but hinder our ability to create jobs, drive away retailers, and set us back on the path to prosperity for all,” Gray said in a letter to the D.C. city council.
Washington, D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray announced his decision to veto the so-called "living wage" bill aimed at Walmart. (Getty Images)
The bill, which would only have applied to stores operating in spaces of 75,000 or more feet, called for Walmart and other “big-box” retailers to pay their employees a “living wage” of at least $12.50 an hour.
“I am vetoing this legislation precisely because I believe in providing a living wage to as many District residents as possible -- and this bill is not a true living-wage measure,” Gray said. “[T]his bill is simply a woefully inadequate and flawed vehicle for achieving the goal we all share."
The mayor said many of the bill’s supporters seemed to be relying on false information regarding what the bill actually does.
“I have repeatedly heard a number of fundamental misunderstandings about what the legislation would actually do and what its enactment into law would mean for District residents,” he said.
Gray outlined what he believes are the bill’s many flaws:
- "The bill is not a true living-wage bill, because it would raise the minimum wage only for a small fraction of the District’s workforce."
- "The bill is a job-killer, because nearly every large retailer now considering opening a store in the District has indicated that they will not come here or expand here if this bill becomes law."
- "The bill would affect far more retailers than many supporters think."
- "Even if the bill did somehow end up creating a small number of higher-paying jobs, it does nothing to ensure that those jobs would actually be filled by District residents."
- "This bill does nothing to help underserved parts of the District."
- "The bill will not modestly delay economic development in underserved District neighborhoods long deprived of jobs and retail amenities; it will kill economic development in these communities for a generation."
He also called for a modest increase in the District’s minimum wage.
“I look forward to putting this debate behind us and working with the Council to do what President Obama proposed earlier this year and what several states and municipalities have recently done: pass a reasonable increase to the District’s minimum wage for all workers,” he said.
Before the city council voted in July to pass the "living-wage" law, Walmart warned that it would be forced to scrap plans for three of the six stores it had hoped to build in the nation's capital.
Walmart did not immediately comment on the mayor's decision to veto the bill.
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Featured image Getty Images.