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Minimum Wage Hike: Fueling Middle Class or Killing Jobs?

The measure would gradually increase the base rate of pay for most Maryland workers from $7.25 an hour to $10.10 an hour by 2017.

the measure would gradually increase the base rate of pay for most workers from the federal level of $7.25 an hour to $10.10 an hour by 2017. File|Patch
the measure would gradually increase the base rate of pay for most workers from the federal level of $7.25 an hour to $10.10 an hour by 2017. File|Patch

By Megan Brockett

Capital News Service

The Maryland House of Delegates voted 89 to 46 on Friday to pass Gov. Martin O’Malley’s proposal to raise the state’s minimum wage.

If also passed by the Senate, the measure would gradually increase the base rate of pay for most workers from the federal level of $7.25 an hour to $10.10 an hour by 2017.

O’Malley has touted a minimum wage hike as his top legislative priority this session, pushing the idea that a strong middle class fuels statewide economic growth.

The proposal that passed the House on Friday differs in significant ways from O’Malley’s original proposal, including a six-month delay in implementation, but Delegate Dereck Davis, D-Prince George’s, chairman of the committee responsible for the changes, lauded the measure as a bipartisan effort.

“What we tried to do in the committee is make the best possible bill we could find,” Davis said.

The House Economic Matters Committee passed the proposal earlier this week after eliminating a provision that would have indexed the minimum wage to rise automatically with inflation. It also did away with an increase for tipped workers.

Davis said the delay would give businesses more time to prepare for the increase, and other supporters of the amended version said that doing away with the index ensures that lawmakers’ hands won’t be tied on the issue in the future.

But several Republican lawmakers said the proposed increase to $10.10 an hour is “extreme” and the changes made to the bill still fall short of offering adequate protection to businesses.

“This bill is far better than where it was before,” said Delegate Kelly Schulz, R-Frederick. “There is still work that needs to be done. There’s a lot of work that needs to be done.”

Schulz said the competition from businesses in surrounding states where the minimum wage is lower would be too much for businesses in Maryland and urged a more “logical” increase.

Other opponents, like Delegate Michael D. Smigiel, R-Cecil, spoke out against a hike of any size, rejecting the notion touted by supporters that a raise would help many residents who are struggling to support a family on $7.25 an hour.

He said raising the wage would increase the cost for businesses and force businesses to lay off employees.

Davis addressed the conflicting nature of the research that has been done on the effects of minimum wage increase, saying it’s largely a “split decision.”

But he called the bill a “socially responsible” measure that would benefit countless residents.

“I see [the bill] as giving what our fellow Marylanders truly want, and that’s a hand up and not a hand out,” he said.

In a written statement issued by his office Friday, O’Malley praised the passage of the measure: "Raising the minimum wage makes good business sense: when workers have more money, businesses have more customers, growing our economy in a way that works.”

The bill is now set to move to the Senate.

If it were to become law, Maryland would join 21 other states and Washington, D.C. in having a minimum wage above the federal level.

Capital News Service reporter Sarah Tincher contributed to this report.

Roger March 10, 2014 at 05:52 AM
You can tell who the tax dodgers are.
Pondo Sinatra March 10, 2014 at 07:50 AM
I love how the proponents loosely cite an author, or a politician: "So and so says it will benefit the economy", while the opponents cite actual arguments, and show their math. - Maryellen, lets not forget that the collapse of 2008 was fueled largely by the real estate bubble. What caused that bubble? A period of prosperity coupled with federally mandated handout to the lower income bracket in the form of Low-Doc and No-Doc mortgages. -So here we are now, some say at the beginning of another period of prosperity, and we have the Dems (eager to buy votes and distract the public from Obamacare) ready to mandate another disaster in the making. Time and time again it has been demonstrated that government mandated wealth redistribution is unsustainable.
Chuck Burton March 10, 2014 at 11:06 AM
Maryellen, you cite academics and their THEORIES, which are seldom based on real life. Academics and their theories have been responsible for a lot of tragic events. Remember that Carl Marx was an academic. Look what happened when career politicians like Lenin and Stalin latched on to his theories and tried to put them to use. Academics are seldom satisfied with the status quo, and want to "improve" things for the "masses" (defined as anyone but themselves). They, and I think most thinking people are that way to some extent. Jesus could be shown to have a Leftist bias; so could Mohammed. My own rephrasing of the Golden Rule, "Behave toward others as you would like them to behave toward you", is likely a bit left of center. A more negative way to say it might be, "Keep your hands off my affairs if you want me to keep my hands off yours." The thing is, government, which is run by professional politicians like FDR, George Bush and Barack Obama, NEVER keeps its hands off our affairs. It always wants to "make things better." Ask yourself, "for whom?"
Chuck Burton March 10, 2014 at 11:36 AM
Proposal: Eliminate the professional politicians via something like this Constitutional Amendment: Article ## No person, having been elected or appointed to Office, shall serve more than One consecutive term in that Office. A term shall be defined as Four Years. Payment for such service shall be the National average Salary of an Office Receptionist plus Expenses not to exceed that Amount. People serving in office should be those who really WANT to SERVE, not those who make a profitable career of office-holding.
Chuck Burton March 10, 2014 at 11:40 AM
People, etc. should have been a new paragraph. Something deleted that.

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