Democrats push $12 statewide minimum wage

OLYMPIA -- Last week Governor Jay Inslee called on state lawmakers to raise Washington’s minimum wage in his State of the State Address, and today a group of Democrats introduced a bill to do just that.  They are pushing for a statewide wage of $12 an hour.

“Our approach is incremental so businesses can plan, have predictability,” said Rep. Jessyn Farrell (D-Seattle) “When you raise the minimum wage, that money goes right back into the community and back into our small businesses.”

The current rate is $9.32, which would jump to $10 in 2015, $11 in 2016, and $12 in 2017.  After that it would rise with inflation.

Republicans were quick to point out that Washington State already has the highest statewide minimum wage in the country.  They argue raising it even more will be a jobs killer and do more harm than good to poor and low income people.

“If you look at poverty in our state, two-thirds of the folks who are below the poverty line don’t have jobs,” said Sen. John Braun (R-Centralia).  “Let’s not do something that will create fewer jobs.  Let’s work on issues that will help us build our economy, help us put more people to work.”

The minimum wage fight is expected to be fierce as the public hearings are held in the state capitol over the next several weeks.