Baltimore and Montgomery County Introduce $15 Minimum Wage Proposals

Date: May 03, 2016

NFIB calls for council members to wait for already-passed increases to take effect before passing more mandated wage hikes.

Baltimore and Montgomery County Introduce $15 Minimum Wage Proposals

After
the effort to mandate paid sick leave failed in the Maryland General Assembly
on the last day of session, small business owners were breathing a sigh of
relief. Unfortunately, for small business owners in Baltimore and Montgomery
County, it wasn’t long before another issue picked up speed: the minimum wage.

In
Baltimore, City Councilwoman Mary Pat Clarke introduced a proposal that would
incrementally increase the minimum wage. Under the legislation, the minimum
wage would increase from the current $8.25 rate to $10 per hour in January
2017, add an additional $1.50 each year after 2017, reach $15 per hour by 2020,
and be adjusted for cost-of-living increases annually thereafter. For business
owners, this represents a significant cost increase, as the minimum wage
applies to about a quarter of the city’s workforce, reported The Baltimore
Sun
.

Meanwhile,
in Montgomery County, council member Marc Elrich introduced a measure that
would enact stair-step increases over the next four years: to $12.50 in 2018,
$13.75 in 2019, and $15 in 2020.

However,
these proposals are coming after minimum wage increases were already recently
approved. Statewide, the General Assembly passed a bill that hikes the minimum
wage from $8.25 to $10.10 by 2018. And in Montgomery County, the current base
rate is $9.55 and is scheduled to increase to $10.75 on July 1 and again to
$11.50 on July 1, 2017.

 “Our
members are still trying to see how they’re going to be able to react to the
state’s recent minimum wage increase,” Mike O’Halloran, NFIB’s Maryland state
director, told The Baltimore Sun. “Now, what Baltimore city is trying to
do is move the goal post on us.”

O’Halloran
has said no new wage hikes should be considered until those already passed are
enacted and business owners have a chance to adjust.

O’Halloran
also spoke to WBAL-TV about how small businesses—particularly those in the
restaurant industry—in other cities that have enacted minimum wage hikes, such
as Seattle, San Francisco, and Oakland, have simply had to shut their doors
because they can’t absorb the cost increase. Ultimately, mandated wage
increases like these end up hurting the very workers lawmakers are trying to
help. 

Furthermore,
O’Halloran noted, the minimum wage was never intended to be a livable wage, but
a beginning/training wage under which new workers could learn job skills and
work their way up the wage chain.

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