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Montgomery County Set To Vote On Minimum Wage Increase

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Pat Warren joined the Eyewitness News team in 1992. Pat came to WJZ...
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ANNAPOLIS, Md. (WJZ)—The push to raise the minimum wage continues in Maryland. Governor Martin O’Malley and other state lawmakers are in favor of an increase, and now one county is set to vote on it.

Political reporter Pat Warren has the latest on this continuing debate.

For many Marylanders, the minimum wage debate is about the ability to provide opportunities for children.

Emily Shetty knows first-hand what it means to be a child of a single mother earning minimum wage.

“Yes, we were very much a part of the working poor,” Shetty said. “Not infrequently we went without electricity. We went without heat on some pretty cold winter nights.”

Shetty has made raising the minimum wage a personal crusade. She joined a group of supporters outside Montgomery County Council on Thursday to urge passage of a local bill.

The bill “ would increase the minimum wage to $11.50 per hour phased in over three years,” said Jeanette Feldner, NOW.

Montgomery’s proposal echoes other calls for a raise.

Supporters demonstrated in Annapolis this year, asking lawmakers to pass a bill to raise the minimum wage.

Minimum wage jobs pay $7.25 an hour. That gives a full-time worker $15,080 a year to live on. A bill to be introduced next year raises the pay to $10.10 an hour by 2016.

“Regions are different and $10 an hour in much of the state may be OK, but Montgomery County and Prince George’s County aren’t much of the state. We’re in a very different economic environment,” said Marc Elrich, Montgomery County Council.

Whether it’s $10.10 an hour or the Montgomery proposal of $11.50, analyst Anirban Basu says it can be a tough sell, with employers possibly eliminating jobs in order to compensate for the pay raise.

“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.

The Montgomery County Council votes on the increase Tuesday.

Based on how the debate in going, finding what’s fair for the employer and the employee is a job in itself. Gov. O’Malley has launched an online petition to generate support for a minimum wage increase.

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