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ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) - Minimum-wage increase proposals are getting the maximum push from Democrats in statehouses in more than half of U.S. states, highlighting the politically potent income inequality issue this year.
Lawmakers in at least 30 states are sponsoring or are expected to introduce wage hike measures, according to a national review by The Associated Press. They hope to notch state-level victories as President Barack Obama and congressional Democrats remain stymied in attempts to raise the federal minimum wage above $7.25 an hour. The president is expected to mention the minimum wage in his State of the Union address Tuesday.
Even in Republican-dominated capitals where the bills are longshots, the measures still give Democrats a chance to hammer home the popular theme of fair wages in what is an election year in most places.
"It's a no-brainer for any Democrat," said Neil Sroka, a strategist for progressive groups who is communications director at the Howard Dean-founded Democracy for America. "Congress is failing. They can take real action right in the states and have a demonstrable impact right here at home. For politics and policy, it's a winning strategy."
Minimum wage is a perennial issue that has taken on a higher profile amid the slowly recovering economy and growing public debate about income inequality. A Quinnipiac University poll this month found 71 percent of Americans in favor of raising the minimum wage - including more than half of Republicans polled.
Michael Sargeant, executive director of the Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee, calls it an "organic issue that's bubbling up from the grassroots." But it's also being pressed by politicians and labor unions. Democrats challenging Republican governors have taken up the issue, and there are ballot initiatives in several states.
"We are facing a huge income gap that only continues to widen, where the workers at the top see large wage increases and the workers at the bottom are at a standstill. That needs to change," said Massachusetts Democratic Senate President Therese Murray.
Five states passed minimum wage measures last year, and advocates hope that number will grow as states from New Hampshire to Washington consider proposals. Many would push families above the federal poverty line, which is $15,730 for a family of two. In Iowa, a bill would hike the minimum wage from $7.25 an hour to $10.10. A Rhode Island bill would raise it from $8 to $9. And a year after New York approved a multiyear minimum wage hike, Assembly Democrats introduced another bill for 2014 sponsored by Labor Committee Chairman Carl Heastie of New York City that would accelerate the increase.
Labor unions and other advocates point to workers like Andrew Lloyd, who cleans the cabins, bathrooms and cockpits of airplanes between flights at John F. Kennedy Airport in New York City for $8 an hour. With a wife and 1-year-old, he relies on food stamps to help stock the refrigerator and his paychecks barely cover diapers and other needs of his daughter. He said he can't afford a new pair of socks for himself.
"It's not enough. What we're making is not enough to support," Lloyd said. "There's just no way they can justify what is going on is right."
Opponents, many of them Republicans, argue that the higher wages translate into fewer jobs and higher consumer costs. So wage hike bills in Republican-controlled legislatures, like Florida and South Carolina, are not expected to pass. In Florida, Gov. Rick Scott said the claim that working families need the boost to make ends meet makes him "cringe, because I know that statement is a lie."
"Even if we did raise the minimum wage, working families will still not be able to make ends meet on those jobs," Scott said. "We need good jobs that lead to good careers for our families, and that's what I am focused on."
Already, a Democrat-backed bill to increase Indiana's minimum wage by $1 was blocked by majority Republicans on a party-line vote Tuesday.
Win or lose, the legislation gives Democrats a potential weapon against Republican opponents. Eddie Vale, a Democratic strategist with close ties to labor unions, said Republicans who oppose a wage hike will face fierce criticism.
"There's a lot of people in this state that are making the minimum wage that are voting Republican right now," said House Democratic Caucus Chairman Mike Turner of Tennessee, where they plan to introduce a minimum wage bill this year. "Maybe if they see that they don't have their best interests in their heart, they might change their minds."
There's hope that success will breed more success. Vale, a top adviser at the Democratic super PAC American Bridge, said the thinking behind the push is to get things started at the state level, where lawmakers come into more direct contact with their constituents. Once state legislatures start moving, it will lend momentum to a federal expansion.
In Minnesota, Rep. Ryan Winkler said as the debate spreads to more states, lawmakers might be more comfortable boosting the wage floor in his state.
"It's not peer pressure, but it's safety in numbers," Winkler said. "It makes people feel like this is a mainstream thing to do."
Contributing were Associated Press writers Philip Elliott in Washington; Steve LeBlanc in Boston; Gary Fineout in Tallahassee, Fla.; Erik Schelzig in Nashville, Tenn.; and Tom LoBianco in Indianapolis.
Go ahead, pay them more, when the prices go up the number of customers will drop. The businesses will go under, so you will support the agenda of this Administration.You can make it worse than it is now, just go ahead !
Trust me, they will "just go ahead" because there is a reward for them in a pay raise which they haven't worked to earn. If they don't like the pay, get a better paying job.
That has never happen since we(US) has had a minimum wage. How is your pay compared to your bosses? The same I suppose and your the one that does the work
And he is the one who took the risk to go into business. AND you can bet he did plenty of work to get the knowledge and skill to teach you YOUR job and earn the money to give you YOUR job. Do you really think people who go into business do it to take care of you? No more than you do when you get a job to give your income to someone else! If you don't like the wages you're making the door swings both ways and if you're really feeling abused you save YOUR money and start a business you can control yourself and see how the wage thing works for you! You'll pay what you have to to get the job done AND NO MORE! A lot of damage is done by an employee who thinks he is doing the employer a favor working for him and an even bigger favor waiting on the customers who keep the business alive and putting their paycheck in their pocket. It's extremely easy to judge an employer when you've never faced the responsibilities they face. They don't get to come in, work X number of hours a day and go home and forget about it until tomorrow! More money comes with more responsibility, education, training, hard work, etc. If you the employee are a valuable asset to the employer he is not foolish enough to let you go willingly. If an employee is having trouble advancing maybe they ought to check up on their work ethic. Are you on time, are you there when you're supposed to be, do you try to learn everything you can even if it's not in your job description, are you appropriately dressed, is your attitude willing and helpful, etc. If not, maybe you are your problem not a greedy employer.
To the guy who got screwed by Dunkin Donuts try lowes or home depot for the BLUE RHINO lp gas refill, the tank holds 20lbs. of gas. Blue rhino is selling 15lbs. of gas, you think you're getting the whole 20lbs. can't see it they sre screwing all of us.
If you want to save $ and skewer someone .........Do it to the Illegal Alien . Or Career "Parent" with 16 Kids , getting a check for each. NOT the Worker , Elderly or Disabled. If we did that , we would have far more than enough. Thats a Savings Of many Billions a Year. But why not? Repubs like the Cheap Labor , and Dems like the Instant Vote
HOW TO GET CONNED IN ONE SIMPLE ARTICLE. And it really BS with a capital "B". When are the people in this country going to wise up the Politicians and Union bosses. The cycle has come around again for the umpteenth time, increase the minimum wage or continue long term unemployment checks. The Politician use it to garner votes because they are looking out for the Working class and by giving you a penitence they get your gratitude and vote, the Union bosses get more dues and get richer while you work, kind of like being on commissions, then in another 10 years or so they come around again and do the same thing.Have you ever wondered why they have never come up with a solution once and for all, we put a man on the moon and yet we can not solve moving people out of poverty. We spend billions on food stamps more billions on relief programs and very few if any get out from under the burden of being poor.Fast simple solution, first the government cuts all corporate welfare and tax credits, then stops all food stamp or entitlement programs, gathers all this money together, makes a contract with an employee to subsidies his or her salary if they work and learn a trade. Remember the WPA work program? This program could be similar but not as wasteful in that the employee would be accomplishing something, gaining experience in a carrier and getting pride in their skills rather than being looked upon as being a burden on the economy. Farm worker or temporary seasonal jobs as well as what would be considered a minimum wage job could be subsided by these funds rather then giving GE a credit when its profit potential does not require a subsidy just because some one whats to support "Green". Is Green more important the peoples livelihood, or self-respect. I do not think so, but apparently these Politicians and Unions do not want you to get out of the hole you are in so they use you again in the dear and near future. Fix the problems, do not put band aids on them, or get out of the way. If the politicians are smart enough to get their pay raises which is unconstitutional with out the vote of the people, it would seem to me they could do something more then hold the poor hostage. By the way these are Democrats, I speak of, you know the ones who look after the working class after they have given the major portion of your money to their sponsors. Same goes for those union guy who vacation in the Caribbean while you are sweating in the factories until its time for then to come and steel your tax monies getting perks for the Bureaucrats that work for the same guy who is trying to get your vote.
How about getting an education so you can get a better job. Why do people want to start at the top. Half of the people you see in these jobs can't even make change on their own. If it wasn't for the register telling them how much to give back, they wouldn't have a clue. And you want to give them more money so the prices of everything will go up? Smart, real smart.....NOT!
Hey Democrats, wouldn't it be much easier to close the income gap if the government would repeal many of the regulations that prevent job creation in the private sector? 1.6% of the work force earns minimum wage. Wouldn't job creation be a better answer? Oh, my bad, that wouldn't create more government handout votes.
yea ur burger at mcdonalds will go up a penny or the crap at walmart will go up a penny....o the horror
yes lets deregulate little more so wv has no water at all
P.S. Reasonable profit is one thing for a company, but when a company's investors are raking in hundreds of millions of dollars and even BILLIONS, while its employees make a mere pitance, then the profit margins are out of control. When the top CEO of Facebook or Amazon have personal incomes of BILLIONS, is it too much to expect that their employees make more?
This is ridiculous! Wait until these companies start requiring a college degree! Then where will these entry level burger flippers be? Kids with a degree will work for $10/ Hr. until they find a real job! Who ever told these people they could improve their lot in life by staying at a low skilled entry level job forever. This country is insane. McDonalds is experiencing flat or NO growth. They have already shrunk their portion sizes to nothing. If they raise prices, the public will vote with their wallet. I took out a cup of coffee from Dunkin Donuts the other day that was advertised as ten ounces. It looked and felt smaller. I told the clerk it was more like 6 ounces, she gave me the company script, I'm sorry sir this is the company policy? What does that even mean? So I got home and dumped the coffee in a measuring cup. It topped out at 7 ounces. At 15 cents an ounce, they screwed ne out of 45 cents! Thats missing 1/3 of their advertised amount. Now coffee doesnt shrink on the grill so you would think they could get it right. Buyer beware.
Another way the NASTY DEMOCRATS AND LIBERALS will use and have used to make more people dependent on the free loaders and grow their party.We republicans should have a law passed stating ANYONE receiving any type of welfare can not vote until they get off welfare.
You'd have to change the US Constitution if it went that way. Never gonna happen. Just post in normal opinions ..Any outstanding and ridiculous posts are usually overlooked by the more intelliegent but i feel you ought to be told rather than make a mockery of yourself.
No one should be working for less than $10 per hour and thats not alot to live on either. This should include bussers, servers, waiters/waitresses and those in the food industry that make FAR less than the current minimum wage of $7.25 now. Then we can get off the "tip" merry go round that everyone is subjected to, except for unique and unusual circumstances. But passed that industry, everyone else needs to catch up.
In other words, it's OK to raise the minimum wage as long as it doesn't come out of your pocket. I have news for you, it comes out of your pocket whether you want to or not.