It appears any vote on a minimum wage increase in Lexington will be months, if not years away. A packed council chambers observed intense debate on the issue Tuesday.
The Lexington proposal calls for raising the minimum wage to $10.10 over three years. After lengthy discussion and comments from two UK economists, council member Bill Farmer won council committee support to postpone consideration. "I couched it in relation to what's going on in Louisville because Louisville is taking a lead in this,” said Farmer. “Louisville is going to get court over this. Let's follow Louisville's lead, once we know where that goes.”
After the debate, the budget committee voted six to three to postpone consideration and gauge how the issue fairs in Louisville. Primary council sponsor Jennifer Mossotti says the push for a minimum wage hike is not over. She says waiting for the issue to likely weave through the courts in Louisville is not practical. "I didn't anticipate that anyone really, realistically, would want to wait two and a half years to have this done,” said Mossotti. “You know, I could see there are some questions that need to be answered.“But two and a half years?"
UK economist Jim Ziliak offered remarks before the committee. He said it's hard to evaluate the impact of a local minimum wage plan, compared to a federal or state law. "The implications for raising the minimum wage in a location like Fayette County are a lot less certain because their evidence base is much less certain and frankly non-existent," said Ziliak.
UK economist Ken Troske told committee members that raising the minimum wage is not the best way to address poverty related issues. He argued in favor of better education, more workforce training, and the earned income tax credit.