Gov. Baker Signs 'Grand Bargain' Bill

charlie baker signs grand bargain bill

Gov. Baker signed the bill at the State House Thursday morning. (Carl Stevens/WBZ NewsRadio 1030)

BOSTON (WBZ-AM) -- Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker signed the so-called Grand Bargain bill at the State House Thursday morning, which addresses issues like minimum wage and paid family leave.

The bill gradually raises the minimum wage to $15 over the course of five years, with the first increase taking place in January of next year, as well as raising the minimum base wage for tipped workers to $6.75. 

It also introduces a new paid family leave program that allows them to take paid leave for up to 12 weeks a year to care for a family member or bond with a newborn, 20 weeks to deal with a personal medical issue, and up to 26 weeks to deal with any emergencies related to family personnel in the military. 

The family leave will be paid for by a new payroll tax. Gov. Baker has consistently said he opposes any new taxes--but earlier this week said this was worth it.

"There's a benefit that's attached to this thing, and that benefit is a paid family leave provision that did not previously exist as state law," he said.

Lastly, the bill establishes a permanent two-day weekend sales tax holiday. 

At the signing, Gov. Baker thanked lawmakers for coming up with a bill all sides could agree on and avoiding a long political battle. That could have happened if the issues had to be decided by ballot question in November.

"I am thankful that all parties came together, compromised and found common ground to produce a better set of policies than what the ballot questions represented," Gov. Baker said in a release. "The Massachusetts workforce continues to grow with more and more people finding jobs and our administration is committed to maintaining the Commonwealth’s competitive economic environment."

WBZ NewsRadio 1030's Carl Stevens asked Sen. Jason Lewis, one of the  lawmakers who worked long hours on the bill, what the bill means for many people in the Commonwealth.

"I think it's a major victory for working families in Massachusetts," he said. "We're going to see the minimum wage rise to $15 an hour over the next five years, that's getting closer to a living wage. We're also going to have the strongest paid family and medical leave in the country, so people won't have to choose between getting a paycheck and taking care of an ill child or family member."

WBZ NewsRadio 1030's Carl Stevens reports

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