BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Baltimore’s minimum wage won’t be going up just yet, at least not for now.
A bill aiming to raise minimum wage to $15 an hour hit a speed bump on Monday evening.
The city council voted to bounce the measure back to committee to clarify wording covering disabled workers, delaying a vote that could have raised wages for low-income workers.
Sending it back to committee means the decision may be up to a new council come November.
Council President Jack Young said he supported a minimum wage increase but, like others, did not believe Baltimore should spearhead the movement on its own.
“It’s a national movement, but I don’t think Baltimore should be the one to lead this national movement,” he said.
For months, workers and the bill’s backers, including Councilwoman Mary Pat Clarke, have been fighting for an increase that they say would raise wages to a level commensurate with the current cost of living and help the city’s poorest people make ends meet.
“Minimum wage survived the night and is in committee where it will rest until the eighth vote should appear,” said Clarke, “and if it does not appear, see you in December.”
“We want to make sure we get the best bill out for the people of Baltimore,” said Ricarra Jones, a “Fight for $15” advocate. “So we understand why it had to go back to committee.”
Not everyone is on board with the legislation, including business owners who say it’s too much and will force them to take drastic measures to keep their businesses afloat.
Deborah Romano, owner of Brick Oven Pizza, told the board she might have to downsize her staff and lay people off if the bill passed.
“Until the people on the city council or any part of the government have a small business and know what it is to pay fees and taxes and salaries, they need to sit down and be quiet,” she said.
Maryland’s minimum wage is currently $8.75, which is already higher than the federal rate of $7.25. Maryland’s minimum wage is set to go up to $10.10 in 2018.
“People don’t want a handout, they want to be self-sufficient and independent,” said Clarke, an outspoken supporter of the bill.
If city council passes this measure, Baltimore would join a list of more than 30 cities in 10 states that have enacted local minimum wage hikes.
The raise wouldn’t be fully implemented until 2022, an amendment the council made during their last vote on the issue on August 8.