On Tuesday, Maryland lawmakers and activists launched “Raise Maryland,” an effort to raise the state’s minumum wage from $7.25 per hour to $10 per hour by 2015.
“We like to say we live in the wealthiest state in America,” said Del. Aisha Braveboy (D-Prince George’s County) “Well, how much do you think it costs to live in the wealthiest state in America?”
More than the minimum wage earner can afford, she said.
“When the minimum wage was at its great est value it was 45 years ago in 1968,” said Sen. Robert J. Garigiola (D-Montgomery County), “If we had indexed the minimum wage then in 1968 the value of minimum wage today would be $10.60 We’re gonna phase it in...we’re going to increase what tipped worked recieve, and we’re gonna index it going forward so the value of the minimum wage doesn’t erode.”
Someone working in Maryland making $7.25 per hour, working full time, earns roughly $15,000 per year. The government-defined poverty line is set at $23,050 a year for a family of four and at $11,170 for an individual.
Garigiola and Braveboy have said they will each introduce legislation that would raise the minimum wage for hourly and tipped workers, and keep it on the rise as the cost of living increases. Under the proposed legislation, the minimum wage will be “adjusted annually” for cost of living.
At a press conference outside the Maryland State House on Tuesday morning, supporters carried signs reading, “We can’t survive on $7.25” and “Hard work deserves Fair Pay.”
“This is an anti-poverty bill,” said Garigiola, “This is going to raise wages on working-class families, making them less reliant on government programs and more reliant on earning the dollar.”
Amanda Rothschild, a small business owner from Baltimore City, attended the rally because she supports raising the minimum wage. At her own business, “We currently pay above what’s already there because we think it helps us maintain our employees longer and makes them more dedicated.”
And if other businesses are compelled to raise their minimum wages to match hers, she’s not worried about losing those employees. “I’m for all things being equal,” she said, “What matters is how you treat your employees.”