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Minimum wage bills pushed in at least 30 states

Democrats Minimum Wage

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.

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DAVIDW0153 January 26 2014 at 2:56 PM

the bad part about increasing wages to workers, the employer will raise prices to cover then increase he is spending out, or will cut some benefits to the employees. He is not going to loose money

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gerry January 26 2014 at 5:49 PM

Raise the income, then raise the price of the products you sell to cover the cost of the wage increases. So, JQ Public is pay more...probably buying less. And, it's cheaper to import stuff from China (junk, but cheaper.) So manufacturing keeps declining, ergo less jobs, more public assistance.
Then Uncle Sam will come along, and tax at a higher rate.
Then everyone is back to square one.

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1 reply
bill4319 gerry January 26 2014 at 5:51 PM

Alas, what's the USA to do about wealth inequality???? Sounds like you want folks to just give up and become surfs of the ruling wealthy class. Could there be a revolution coming???

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2 replies
danny bill4319 January 26 2014 at 6:04 PM

There will always be wealth inequality.Even in communism there are rich because of corruption.

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thescot bill4319 January 26 2014 at 6:08 PM

Just want them to get a decent educations and make something of themselves instead of stealing from the people who have taken the time and effort to make someting of themselves rather than become wefare recipients.

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lflz28 January 26 2014 at 5:43 PM

Here's the problem, We now pay European Prices in America. In the mid 60's I bought 3 cars in near perfect condition from a used car dealer for an average of $60. each That's right I said $60. Now for the same condition Same mileage the European & Arab Car dealers running American dealerships in This contry charge $5000.

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hapeguy January 26 2014 at 5:36 PM

This is not only about minimum wage earners. It has everything to do with Unions. When the minimum wage is increased many, many union jobs have their wages increased also. Also, once "the people" realize that they only have to rattle the cage and the politicians will mandate a raise for them, they will just start rattling the cage. Who cares about being a better trained, or a hard worker.

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hopatease January 26 2014 at 3:20 PM

every time you give people just starting to work more $$$$$$$ what i have saved for my old age is worth lesssssss and lessssss thanks all you a-holes

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ggause3159 January 26 2014 at 5:33 PM

Raising the minimum wage is nothing but a con and shell game put on by the politicians. When they raise the minimum wage the businesses raise their prices to make up for having to pay more to the employees and the employees are still broke because the prices on goods have been raised. The best thing politicians can to is bring in the fair tax, quit giving forign aid to our enemies and give back to Americans, quit losing our Corporations to forign Countries by giving them better incentives to stay here and raise the standards in Education instead of lowering them. Give American kids a better chance for a decent Education instead of giving all the opportunities to forign students who resent this Country and set off bombs later. Our Cities are looking like third world Countries, our citizens are becoming thugs and its the Politicians fault.

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1 reply
Mark ggause3159 January 26 2014 at 5:52 PM

That makes too much sense for any politician to grasp....maybe you should run for office oh yeah it takes money and THEY have it all that's why things suck!

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tags1960 January 26 2014 at 5:28 PM

Business onwers may be forced to raise wages but, that cost will be passed on either in price increases or less people doing the jobs and equaling the same production as before the decrease in jobs. I would have no problem if they passed a minimum wage law which stated that if you are supporting a family you get a higher wage than a teenager who lives at home with mom and dad and does the same job as you. Get ready to see prices go up and jobs dissappear as wages incerease.
This is only a democratic ploy to gain votes, deep down they know nothing will change for the minimum wage earner but, they will gain votes from people to stupid to realize what the real impact of this law woould be.

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1 reply
Vi tags1960 January 26 2014 at 6:36 PM

Unfortunately, you are so right...

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Iamnot1ofurfans January 26 2014 at 5:26 PM

My parents taught me that if you want a good job with good income and benefits you need to go to college and learn a marketable skill. To raise the minimum wage that high, would only cause the products these companies are selling to be more expensive or cause them to lay off people to make sure they are making a profit.

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1 reply
Vi Iamnot1ofurfans January 26 2014 at 6:18 PM

Of course it is 'logical' that raising minimum wages will either raise cost to the consumer, or lay-offs in the work force. Which, will make it worse for everyone... Because ~ Power rules. And those at the top are not about to take a cut in profits. Another repercussion is that some small franchises may be forced to close because of lack of business due to a raise in prices... It is not a win-win proposal for either side at this time.

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Viper1ex19 January 26 2014 at 3:27 PM

Why is it that people always blame the republicans for their failures.

Research your democratic leaders and see for your self where the money is going.

If you're stuck at the bottom, it's your own fault.

My father always told me; The best way to get on your feet is to get off your a$$.

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2 replies
bottomtime321 Viper1ex19 January 26 2014 at 3:33 PM

We must be related, my father told me the same thing.

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Marilyn Viper1ex19 January 26 2014 at 3:45 PM

And i bet your dad was union and would strike for more money when time came so he could take care of you.so why not let anyone else earn more..

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1 reply
Protect Our Backs Marilyn January 26 2014 at 4:48 PM

Sounds more like where you were raised. Don't earn it - TAKE IT!!!! And you wonder why the businesses are going over seas.....just saying.

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rolltide1 January 26 2014 at 3:28 PM

let's say i make 9 bucks an hour, a little over minimum wage, then they raise the min wage to that, i guess i would be considered poverty and able to apply for food stamps.

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1 reply
klasakt rolltide1 January 26 2014 at 3:49 PM

I was going to say that. I am an hourly worker, I work in a small office as the office manager ... basically everything regarding A/P, A/R, understanding the programs run by said company and being able to do those jobs as well, payroll, etc. If I am making $12 an hour because that was the only job I could find ... being over 50 ... what does that say about the burger flipper who thinks they are entitled to $15 an hour? Excluding our bosses and our maintenance guy, the three employees in our office all make under $15 an hour. All of us have multiple degrees ... BAs, MAs, etc. I did a similar job at 20 before I had my degrees and before computers were used on top of it. You take the job that is available to put food on the table and keep a roof over your head and do what YOU need to do to make it work. The day that fast food employees ... jobs really meant for teenagers and college students, not head of households ... is the day that I stop eating there. And if everyone thought like me, then the fast food industry would collapse and those same people would have no job at all. Then where will they be? With only GEDs and HS diplomas they will be hard pressed to find a job. When I was getting my first degree, there were 13 Ph.D. candidates for every Ph.D. job. That meant that 12 of those Ph.D. holders worked at a job "beneath" their education for less money. It is called a job for a reason. It is and never was guaranteed nor is anyone entitled to their jobs. There is no where in the Constitution of this country, nor the Declaration of Independence that guarantees you a home, a higher education nor a job. What they do guarantee is "life, liberty and the PURSUIT of happiness." If all these people are so brilliant, why do they not go out and start their own companies and keep all the profits for themselves? Do what Steve Jobs did ... start your business out of your garage in your spare time till it takes off.

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1 reply
klasakt klasakt January 26 2014 at 3:51 PM

oops ... meant to say "The day that fast food employees 'make $15 an hour' ..."

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