I am the parent of an adult with a disability, and I oppose HB 1706/SB 5753. I believe everyone deserves a living wage, whether or not they are disabled, but HB 1706 won’t accomplish this.
An issue that HB 1706/SB 5753 ignores completely is that of Supplemental Security Income (SSI). Most adults with disabilities receive income through Social Security. All wages must be reported to Social Security so that they can determine how much to reduce the individual’s SSI based on their wages. The more an individual earns, the less SSI they receive. If they earn too much, they will lose their benefits entirely, including the health insurance provided by Social Security. Eliminating the sub-minimum wage may help some with disabilities but, for others, it actually threatens their income.
The authors of HB 1706/SB 5753 also ignore the economics of the bill. If employers are forced to pay minimum wage, they will need to shorten work hours, fire employees and/or raise prices. None of these are attractive alternatives in our competitive economy.
The idea behind HB 1706/SB 5753 is important but this bill needs significant improvement before it passes into law. Lawmakers need to find a way to protect Supplemental Security Income and they need to subsidize employment so that companies can afford to hire people with disabilities.