Md. joins its counties, Montgomery & Prince Georges, and DC in raising the minimum wage

Md. joins its counties, Montgomery & Prince Georgeês, and DC in raising the minimum wage

Four year phase in disappoints Gov. OêMalley

Like always, the last day of the Maryland General Assembly was full of drama and compromise. By then, it was no surprise that the minimum wage bill passed, albeit the vote in the House was 87 to 47. Raising the wage floor to $10.10 was Governor Martin OêMalleyês top priority, but he didnêt get everything he wanted. The increase will be raised in stages and reach $10.10 in 2018, two years later than the governor had planned. The base wage will rise from $7.25 now to $8.00 on January 1, 2015; to $8.25 in July 2015; then $8.75 in July 2016; to $9.25 in July 2017; and, finally, $10.10 by July 2018. There is a –training wage” for employees age 19 and younger, who can be paid 85 percent of the minimum.

The bill originally had a provision to peg the minimum to inflation, but that was pulled to placate Republicans and conservative Democrats. Some members of the Assembly had discussed a two-tiered minimum wage, with a lower floor in the western part of the state, where businesses must compete with West Virginiaês lower wages, but that was not part of the final bill.

Like the governor, but for opposite reasons, Republicans were unhappy with the outcome, saying that a higher minimum wage would result in job losses. –The reality is that in the long run, it will hurt jobs,” said Del. Andrew Serafini, according to the Washington Post. Added Del. Michael McDermott, with the wage hike, –you guarantee Maryland will be the leader in inflation for our region,” reports the Baltimore Sun.

Democratic Del. Dereck Davis said arguments about poor timing were unconvincing. –If not now, when?” he told the New York Times. –By the logic we keep hearing on the floor, we should never raise the minimum wage.”

The state vote had already been superseded locally by action to raise the wage floor to $11.50 by 2017 in both Montgomery and Prince Georgeês counties. Both counties will follow a similar phase in to what is mandated by the state plan with the base wage rising to $8.40 in October 2014; then $9.55 in October 2015; to $10.75 in October 2016; and $11.50 in October 2017.

Progressives in Congress havenêt been able to muster the votes in Washington to raise the federal minimum wage to $10.10 as Maryland did, nor could the Virginia General Assembly this year garner enough votes to raise it there where the level remains at $7.20/hour.

DC continues to lead the region in having the highest minimum wage, which today is $8.25/hour, slated to go to $11.50 by July 2016, per legislation signed into law by the mayor earlier this year. DC and Maryland, then, join 13 other states nationwide that increased minimum wage, or implemented plans to do so.

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