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Youngkin vetoes Democrats’ proposed minimum wage increase

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(The Center Square) – Gov. Glenn Youngkin vetoed bills Thursday that would have raised Virginia’s minimum wage to $13.50 per hour in 2025 and $15 in 2026.

The companion bills were among the first to be prefiled by General Assembly Democrats, indicating their status as high-priority legislation.

“Successful states recognize that the government does not need to set labor prices,” the governor wrote in his veto statement. “The free market for salaries and wages works. It operates dynamically, responding to the nuances of varying economic conditions and regional differences. This wage mandate imperils market freedom and economic competitiveness.”

Youngkin went on to explain that mandated increases aren’t the only path to a higher minimum wage in the commonwealth; a Virginia law written for a future effective date will tie its minimum wage increases to the Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers.

“This approach is preferable, allowing wages to adjust over time in response to economic conditions,” Youngkin wrote.

House and Senate Bill 1 would have continued a minimum-wage-increase streak, begun by Democrats in 2020, that raised the state minimum wage from the federal rate to the current $12 per hour. Today, 30 states and the District of Columbia have a minimum wage that exceeds the federal rate of $7.25 per hour. Of those, the District of Columbia’s is the highest in the nation at $17; there are 17 others with a higher minimum wage than Virginia, including Maryland ($15).

Democrats shared their disappointment on social media.

“Apparently, @GlennYoungkin thinks $31,200/year is too much for working class Americans. I don’t,” wrote Del. Dan Helmer, D-Fairfax, who’s also competing in the Democratic primary for retiring Rep. Jennifer Wexton’s congressional seat.

The $31,200 per year figure comes from the 2026 rate of $15 per hour the bill would have ensured.

Del. Adele McClure, D-Arlington, shot back at the governor’s veto statement.

“Out-of-touch rich people who don’t make minimum wage & don’t live paycheck to paycheck always have the audacity to say: ‘The free market for salaries & wages works,’” McClure wrote. “VA’s workers are the backbone of our economy & the Governor just turned his back on them/denied them a pay raise.”

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