OLYMPIA – A bill to increase the statewide minimum wage to $12/hour in four years was not brought up for a vote in the Republican-controlled Senate Committee on Commerce & Labor by today’s cutoff deadline.
“I am disappointed that raising the minimum wage to help hard-working families across the state of Washington is not something we can do this year at the legislature,” said Rep. Jessyn Farrell, prime sponsor of House Bill 1355. “No one who works full time should have to raise a family in poverty. By rewarding an honest day’s work with a fair wage, we can create an economy that works for everyone, not just the wealthy few.”
“Nothing is more fundamentally American than honest pay for honest work,” said Senator Pramila Jayapal, the prime sponsor of the Senate version of the minimum wage increase. “Unfortunately, all that stood in the way of a raise for over half a million hard-working Washingtonians was special interests- pure and simple. To say a modest wage increase for workers is bad for business flies in the face of the reality that in the nearly ninety years since a minimum wage was passed, America has become the world’s largest economy. That speaks for itself. Numerous small business owners, who potentially would have the most to lose, testified that raising the minimum wage could produce actual savings in reduced turnover and increased productivity. In the end, I regret that the Chair of Commerce & Labor refused to pass the bill out of committee so we could have a full discussion on the Senate floor on one of the critical issues of our times. I believe we would have the bipartisan support to pass this bill off the floor. I hope Washingtonians know that many of us in Olympia not only hear you, but are with you – and we won’t stop fighting until you get the raise you deserve.”
Washington’s economic outlook is improving, but at $9.47 per hour someone working full time still makes less than $20,000 per year. The bill would have raised Washington’s minimum wage to $10 in 2016 and 50 cents per year through 2019.
According to the Washington State Employment Security Department, HB 1355 would have created $7 billion additional income dollars for low-wage workers – money that could quickly recirculate back into Washington’s economy in the form of food, clothing, rent and utilities.
“We will keep fighting to bring a fair wage to all corners of Washington,” noted Farrell.