Gov. O’Malley Launches Online Petition To Raise Minimum Wage

ANNAPOLIS, Md. (WJZ) — Bigger paychecks for minimum wage workers. Governor O’Malley is launching an online petition campaign.

Gigi Barnett explains boosting the dollars for low-wage workers may not close the state’s gap between the middle class and the wealthy.

Maryland’s lowest-wage workers could see more cash in their paychecks. The state’s minimum wage is locked at $7.25 an hour — right on par with the national average. But Governor Martin O’Malley says it’s time to raise it, and he’s launching an online petition to get it done.

“People are struggling now. I mean, we need higher wages. I know I do, I’m a single mom,” said Tracy Glenn.

“The water bill goes up, the taxes go up. The only thing not going up is everyone’s paycheck,” Rodney Berger said.

O’Malley didn’t say how much he wants the minimum wage to increase. But in an online letter, the governor believes boosting the wage will help close the income gap between the haves and have-nots.

“Seven twenty-five an hour is not much. Everyone agrees with this. But it’s still more than zero dollars an hour,” said Anirban Basu, CEO, Sage Policy Group.

Economist Anirban Basu agrees Maryland workers need more in one of the nation’s most expensive states to live. But he says the key is not raising the wage too high. Basu says in a weak economy, employers will cut those low-wage positions.

“The labor market is weak, and what you don’t want to do in the name of trying to help people is actually end up hurting them by destroying their jobs,” Basu said.

Last session, lawmakers considered raising the minimum wage from $7.25 to $10 an hour. It failed, and now supporters say they’ll try again in January.

Basu says teens who work during the summer and holiday shopping season are the most negatively impacted by low minimum wages.

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