Nation/World

Deal Reached On Raising Minimum Wage By Fall

House and Senate negotiators agreed Wednesday on provisions of legislation raising the minimum wage and cutting business taxes, clearing the way for final congressional approval by the weekend.

The deal, which both House and Senate negotiators have approved, would include a $5,000 credit to defray adoption expenses, said House Ways and Means Chairman Bill Archer, R-Texas.

Parents adopting children younger than 18 could subtract up to $5,000 in adoption expenses from their income taxes. Unused portions of the credit could be carried forward for up to five years.

Meanwhile, Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass., said Democrats would reluctantly accept an Oct. 1 effective date for an increase in the minimum wage. Kennedy had been pushing for Labor Day, Sept. 2.

The wage would increase, initially, from $4.25 per hour to $4.75 and, on Sept. 1, 1997, to $5.15. Delaying the initial raise by a month, Kennedy said, will cost a full-time minimum-wage worker $80.

Negotiators from the Senate were expected to sign off on the tax portion of the bill Wednesday night. GOP leaders plan to send the bill to President Clinton before Congress leaves town this weekend for its fourweek August recess.

Aides said the tax breaks total roughly $8.6 billion over five years and $21.4 billion over 10 years. The estimated cost to business of the minimum wage increase for more than 10 million workers is $3.4 billion a year.

“We will make it easier for smallbusiness men and women to hire, to expand, to modernize,” Archer said.

House and Senate negotiators previously had agreed to a provision allowing homemakers to contribute up to $2,000 to Individual Retirement Accounts, the same as working spouses. One-income couples are now limited to a maximum $2,250 contribution while couples in which both spouses work can contribute up to $4,000.

Negotiators also were in accord on improved equipment write-offs for small businesses and a new kind of pension plan for firms employing 100 or fewer workers.



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