Delaney pledges to use personal funds on campaign to boost Md. minimum wage

Rep. Donna Edwards (D-Md.) hugs now-Rep. John Delaney (D-Md.) at a polling place in November. (Photo by Katherine Frey/The Washington Post)

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Rep. John Delaney (D-Md.), the newest member of Maryland’s congressional delegation, announced Monday that he would draw upon personal funds to launch a campaign to raise the state’s minimum wage in next year’s legislative session.

Delaney, a financier who won election in Maryland’s 6th District last year, said he remains supportive of federal legislation that would raise the minimum wage across the country. A pending bill would increase it from $7.25 to $10.10 by 2015.

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But “the chances of that moving anytime soon are limited,” he said, adding that “the best way to make a difference for my constituents” is pushing state lawmakers to take action.

Delaney said the campaign would involve a grass-roots component, digital ads and more traditional media, including television, as the start of the legislative session draws closer. He said he plans to hire a campaign director and retain a media firm.

“I’m prepared to make a significant investment,” Delaney said.

Nineteen states and the District currently mandate a minimum wage higher than the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour.

Delaney said he does not have a specific figure in mind for Maryland at this time. Maryland lawmakers rejected legislation last session that would have raised the state’s minimum wage to $10 by mid-2015.

Gov. Martin O’Malley (D) has said he is considering sponsoring a bill this year with a similar aim.

Delaney said he will try to reframe the debate by arguing that a higher minimum wage would be good for businesses. Better wages, he argued, would reduce turnover and retention costs, which are significant.

And Delaney also said that the state should be focusing on other ways to help businesses — including reducing regulatory burdens — that don’t get in the way of helping workers.

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