Minimum wage jobs currently pay $7.25 an hour, which gives a full-time Maryland worker just $15,080 a year to live on. Governor Martin O’Malley wants to change that. O’Malley has recently launched an online petition and has been working on a bill to increase minimum wage that will be introduced to next year’s Maryland state legislature in January 2014.
O’Malley fears that “moms and dads are working harder, but falling farther behind” and believes that in order to “move Maryland forward out of this recession and into better times” it is necessary to make important choices that will “expand opportunity and strengthen families — choices that grow the ranks of a diverse middle class.” These “choices” include increasing minimum wage.
However, during the past year’s 90-day legislative session, many people were disappointed in the lack of progress that O’Malley’s bill made. A whole-hearted resistance from retailers and employers contributed to the slow progress, but supporters of the bills, such as the state’s labor unions, still hope for a different result when lawmakers return to Annapolis this January.
All three Democratic candidates running next year to succeed O’Malley as governor have promised to make minimum wage a priority issue. Delegate Heather Mizeur of Montgomery County proposed a plan that would raise the state’s minimum wage to $16.70 an hour by 2022. Maryland Attorney General Douglas Gansler has also signed a plan that would set a minimum of $10.10 an hour by July 2016.
Many Montgomery County students support the minimum wage increase as well. Alvin, a student at Winston Churchill High School, believes an increase “will help people who had less opportunity for education and are stuck in low paying jobs to live better lives.” Richard, a student at Montgomery Blair High School, notes the bill’s benefits for students, since “the minimum wage increase will help working students make more money to support their families.”
Currently, nineteen states and Washington D.C. have a higher minimum wage than the federal minimum of $7.25 an hour. On November 26, the Montgomery County Council voted 8-1 to phase in a minimum wage of $11.50 by 2017. The entire state may decide to join Montgomery County later this year.
Article by Jennifer Chen, MoCo Student staff writer
Image from the Executive Office of the Governor