The minimum wage in America continues to be a source of heated debates and is once again in the foreground going into the 2017 General Assembly session.
The minimum wage in America continues to be a source of heated debates and is once again in the foreground going into the 2017 General Assembly session. Presented most recently is a bill put forth by Virginia Democrats that will raise the pay standard across the state of Virginia incrementally over the next four years.
SB 785, proposed by Senator Dave Marsden (D-37) hopes to succeed where previous bills have failed.
“This has become a serious problem that has crippled many young families from being able to accomplish any real goals in life,“ says Marsden. “Where once people had the ability to purchase a car or place a down payment on a home, now can just barely find the means survive.”
The bill in question would increase the pay from its current federally mandated level of $7.25 per hour to $8.00 per hour effective July 1, 2017. After that, the level will rise by one dollar annually until 2020, unless the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) requires a higher minimum wage.
“We look to see an improvement not only in the quality of life for most families, but also to the issue facing many college graduates,” said Marsden, who made the connection to an increase in pay helping folks across the economic spectrum. “My team and I are optimistic that this approach to the crisis will find some traction, and that leaders on both sides of the aisle with see this as a solution worth bridging the political divide.”
Problems like this are an issue not only on the local level. States across the country are finding that the minimum wage crisis is creating real tension within many workplaces.
Richmond alone has seen worker unions protesting for higher compensation, as companies increase their employee’s responsibilities while do little to increase hourly pay.
Back in 2015, delegate Marcus Simon (D-Fairfax) proposed the more drastic HB 1512, which aimd to raise Virginia’s minimum wage from $7.25 an hour to $15.15
“Raising the minimum wage across the country to that level is just unrealistic at this point,” says Marsden in regards to the $15.15 bill.
”That may be something that cities like Seattle or San Francisco should implement, but for a city like Richmond, it is a drastic and steep request.”
One RVA Magazine follower, David Imbody, was also concerned about such a large increase in such a short amount of time.
“If this happens workers will get hours cut, companies will fail, and Virginia’s production power will become irrelevant,” Imbody said. “It will also kill new businesses opening and entrepreneurship that would otherwise be possible.”
Previous attempts have been made to promote bipartisan cooperation regarding this issue, but little headway has been made.
With the help of some equally concerned economists, Senator Marsden has brought forth a bill that he believes will provide a realistic solution to the ongoing issue. “Regardless of the amount, the minimum wage dilemma has to be resolved,” says Marsden.
The bill also addresses the issue within the foodservice industry, where servers for numerous local and national restaurants have found it harder and harder to provide for their families. This affects jobs like busser and dishwasher as well, since their pay is directly based off of what the servers make.
The bill put for by Senator Marsden is currently awaiting a vote in the Commerce and Labor Committee, RVAMag will track the bill as it advances this January.