The state House of Representatives last week passed an increase in the state’s minimum wage by a fairly slim margin (78 – 62). But don’t expect the Senate to follow suit. As of now, there are not enough votes in the Democratic caucus to pass the bill.
One capitol insider tells The Shad, “They’re [Democratic senators] are all over the place on this one.” Indeed, Senate President Don Williams tells me, “We don’t have the votes to take this to the floor [for consideration by the whole senate], Williams said. “Caucus members are generally supportive of the idea of raising the minimum wage but they question the timing.” Williams says the legislature has approved raising the wage in the past but usually in good economic times or at least not in a struggling economy.
Williams added that the Senate Democrats are very hesitant to pass yet another that the business community sees as anti-business. “Last session we passed a very healthy Earned Income Tax Credit to help those who are struggling,” The General Assembly also approved a measure to require most companies to provide paid sick leave to workers.
State Speaker of the House Chris Donovan introduced the wage increase and is the measure’s chief backer. He is also running for Congress this year. Donovan’s bill would have increase the minimum wage from the current $8.25 to $9.00 this year and to $9.75 the next. That’s $.75 a year for two years. A legislative community amended that and the House further watered down the original bill by approving an increase of $.25 per hour over the years.
That still might not be enough to garner the votes in the Senate Democratic Caucus. Donovan’s signature piece of legislation may very well die on the senate calendar. Not exactly a boost for a congressional campaign.