“Individuals working minimum wage jobs in the state, jobs that are absolutely vital to keep our economy running and many businesses functioning, need to earn a fair wage,” said Sen. Erin P. Lynch (D-Dist. 31, Warwick, Cranston), the bill’s sponsor. “Nobody should be working a full-time job at a wage that keeps them in poverty.”
The bill now heads to the House for consideration before the House Committee on Labor.
Lynch cited statistics from the Women’s Law Center, which reports 60 percent of workers earning minimum wage are females. According to the AFL-CIO, raising the minimum wage will affect 65,000 Rhode Islanders.
Rhode Island’s current minimum wage of $8 went into effect this January, as a result of legislation enacted by the General Assembly last session that was also sponsored by Senator Lynch.
Raising Rhode Island’s minimum wage would keep the state even with or close to nearby Massachusetts and Connecticut
In Connecticut, for instance, a recently enacted law raises that state’s minimum wage from the current $8.70 to $9.15 on January 1, 2015; then to $9.60 on January 1, 2016, and $10.10 on January 1, 2017.
The Raise Up Massachusetts ballot initiative will, if approved, raise the Bay State’s wage from the current $8 to $9.25 at the beginning of 2015, and to $10.50 beginning in 2016. Beginning the following year, the minimum wage in Massachusetts would be tied to the cost of living. The ballot initiative would also increase the hourly wage of tipped workers to $4.15 in 2015 and to $6.30 the following year.
The minimum wage of the other New England states is: Vermont, $8.73, with an increase to $9.15 scheduled in 2015, then to $9.60 in 2016, to $10 in 2017 and to $10.50 in 2018; Maine, $7.50, and New Hampshire, $7.25. The federal minimum wage, which has not changed since 2009, is $7.25.
The bill is co-sponsored by Sen. Joshua Miller (D-Dist. 28, Cranston, Providence), Sen. Harold M. Metts (D-Dist. 6, Providence), Sen. Ryan W. Pearson (D-Dist. 19, Cumberland, Lincoln) and Sen. Adam J. Satchell (D-Dist. 9, West Warwick).