On Thursday Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick signed a bill raising the state’s minimum wage to $11 an hour by 2017, making the state’s minimum wage the highest state minimum in the country, although it is still well behind the $15 minimum in the city of Seattle.
“Raising the minimum wage brings a little relief to the working poor, many of whom do jobs we could not live without and who recycle money right back into the economy,” Patrick, a Democrat said in a statement announcing the signing of the bill.
The bill is not perfect, the minimum for tipped workers will rise 31 percent to $3.75 an outrageously low amount but still an increase from the current $2.63 that it has languished at for the last 15 years.
“Massachusetts is a real outlier,” said Paul Sonn, general counsel for the National Employment Law Project, commenting on the anemic increase for tipped workers. While the law requires employers to make up the difference if tips are not sufficient to bring their employees up to the minimum wage, it is all too easy to game the system and very few employers ever make up that difference.
As the Republican House continues to block any attempt to raise the federal minimum states are beginning to take the problem on by raising state minimums above the poverty level $7.25 of the federal minimum. In the last two years. Michigan recently passed a phased increase to $9.25 by 2018 with Vermont and Maryland approving bills last month which will raise their minimums to $10.10 and $10.50 respectively by 2018.
Since last year legislatures in Minnesota, Delaware, West Virginia, Connecticut, New York, California and Hawaii have all passed measures to raise the minimum wage at the state level.
It is not the will of the people that is holding up any movement by the federal government on the issue of raising the minimum wage, earlier this month a CNN Money American Dream Poll found that 71% of the American people support raising the minimum wage to the proposed level of $10.10 an hour with another 16 percent saying that it should be even higher. It is only obstinacy of Congressional Republicans that is holding up the passage of a federal increase, even if such a bill made it through the Senate it is almost assured of going nowhere in the Republican controlled House.
h/t: Daily Kos