Senate Committee Approves Proposed Minimum Wage Increase
The Senate Labor Committee approves a proposal to increase the minimum wage to $8.50 over the next two years. The federal minimum wage is $7.25 an hour, and this measure would create a state minimum wage at $8.00 by 2018 and increase to $8.50 by 2019. State Director of the National Federation for Independent Business, Dawn Starns opposes the measure because she says it will create uncertainty for small businesses.
“In creating a state minimum wage, we could be facing an annual look at this every year at an increase, and small business owners can’t have that kind of uncertainty in their budgeting,” Starns said.
But New Orleans Senator Troy Carter says raising the minimum wage would actually help businesses. He says the turnover rate for low wage employees is very high. He says giving workers a decent wage would boost morale and lower turnover rates.
“It’s harder for an employer to keep and train good people when they’re paying them such meager wages. If you invested in your employees, you’d get better employees,” Carter said.
The Louisiana Association of Business and Industry also opposes the measure. Jim Patterson with LABI says minimum wage is a starting hourly rate and not intended to be a living wage. He adds that once employees making minimum wage start making more, other workers will want better compensation too.
“They are going to demand that they be paid higher because as they perceive themselves they are above that individual in terms of the skills, experience, or what have you,” Patterson said.
But Carter says the world doesn’t come to an end when you treat people fairly. He says not only will better wages make for better work environments, it will also help the community.
“We get a community that’s made of proud people that will earn their own keep, who are not looking for anybody to give them anything. People that are going out and working and coming home and feeling good about that,” Patterson said.
The bill was passed on a 4 to 2 vote. It will go to the Senate floor, but first it could be sent to the Senate Finance Committee, where it was killed last year.