The Kentucky House of Representatives has passed a bill to increase the minimum wage in the Commonwealth. The measure raises the minimum wage 95 cents a year over a three year period. If enacted into law, the hourly rate would go from seven dollars 25 cents to ten dollars and ten cents after three years.
House Speaker Greg Stumbo brought the issue before his chamber. “You believe as I believe that people are entitled to a living wage, a wage that allows them to purchase not an extravagant lifestyle, but at least the necessities of life,” said Stumbo.
Louisville Representative Jim Wayne argued opponents of the bill come from areas with, in his words, ‘deep pockets of poverty with people who struggle to stay alive.’ House Minority Floor Leader Jeff Hoover says raising the minimum wage would result in higher costs for school districts. “It does have a significant impact on school districts. It’s an unfunded mandate on school districts. Six point eight million dollars over the next three years and four point eight million dollars each year there-after,” said Hoover.
The minimum wage measure was approved by a 54- 45 vote. Garrard County Representative Jonathan Shell says more jobs is the answer. “We don’t need any more band aids here in Kentucky. What we need is job growth. We need more Kentuckians employed. Job growth will lead to an increased wage,” said Shell.
The bill approved in the Kentucky House includes a pay equity provision. It would better ensure men and women are paid the same for comparable work. Louisville Representative Mary Lou Marzian has been working on pay equity issues for years. “And it will require analysis of each job title or job category based on factors that are not gender, but skill, education, difficulty of employment,” explained Marzian.
The minimum wage bill now heads to the Senate where its future is uncertain.