Lawmakers in Oregon approved legislation that will raise the state’s minimum wage to the highest level in all of the United States. The plan involves a tiered system based on the worker’s location in the state that is unlike any other legislation to date.
The state House passed the measure on Thursday and it is now expected to be passed by Democratic Governor Kate Brown who released a statement saying she would in fact sign it.
Over the last two years, 14 other states have raised their minimum wages and another 12 are considering it within the next year. The rising popularity of this issue has led it to be a main topic of discussion for both Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton as they fight for the Democratic nomination.
Oregon’s plan spreads over the next six years, with the current $9.25 minimum increasing to $14.75 in metro Portland, $13.50 in smaller cities, and $12.50 in rural areas by the year 2022. Before this legislation, the top spot belonged to the state of Massachusetts whose wage will rise to $11 next year.
Although other states, including California and Vermont, have raised the minimum wage as well, none have taken the tiered approach similar to Oregon.
“Oregon has always been at the forefront of new ideas in the country. We were the first to actually have a minimum wage,” said Rep. Paul Holvey. “Trust me, we’re not solving all the problems, but we are making a substantial dent in it by pushing up from the bottom some wage equality … from the huge disparity we have in incomes.”
Although the Democrats support this move, Republicans are not too pleased with the decision, says Barry Bushue, president of the Oregon Farm Bureau. “This enormous increase will force many family farmers to try to find ways to mechanize or transition away from labor-intensive products Oregon is known for, like apples, pears, milk and berries,” Bushue said. “Unfortunately, some will give up and sell, while others will simply go out of business.”
Bushue has a legitimate concern, especially when looking at how Washington D.C. has fared with its increase in minimum wage. Walmart recently abandoned plans to open two new stores in the D.C. area because they could not afford the minimum wage.
The move that was designed by the left to help lower class workers are not preventing jobs for this demographic from moving to these areas! Obama has been forced to rely on pressuring these companies into paying higher wages since he has failed to create an economy where new jobs are created.
In time, these states that choose to raise the minimum wage will face the same issues that D.C. faced, and the Democrats will then have to answer for this poorly thought out plan.