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State Senate passes minimum wage increase

money-newlinksThe Virginia Senate voted Tuesday 20-20 to pass a bill that would raise the state minimum wage to $9.25. The vote took place along party lines, with all Democrats supporting and all Republicans opposed. Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam broke the tie.

The state minimum wage is indexed to the federal minimum, currently $7.25. SB 590, introduced by Sen. Dave Marsden (D-Fairfax), would raise the state minimum to $9.25. The change would happen incrementally, with separate $1.00 increases scheduled for both 2014 and 2015.

“Workers across Virginia need a minimum wage that keeps up with our cost of living. If the Virginia minimum wage had kept up with inflation over the past 40 years, it would be $10.55,” said Sen. Marsden. “We need to catch up. I’ve asked the people who contact me saying, we can’t do this: twenty years from today, when this is worth $2.50 or $3.00 in value, would it still not be time to raise the minimum wage? And the answer is always the same: silence.”

“I would say that no one here is earning $7.25 per hour. We don’t know what it’s like to be in the shoes of minimum wage earners,” said Sen. Adam Ebbin (D-Alexandria) “The question is, should 123,000 minimum wage-earning Virginians have some hope that their work will not let them fall further behind? All Virginia workers are worth more than $7.25 per hour.”

“There are two reasons to support this bill. The first is moral. If you go out and talk to people, they’re having a hard time getting a decent job that will give them enough income to support their families,” said Sen. John Edwards (D-Roanoke). “The second reason is economic. Put money in people’s hands, and they’ll spend it. Raising the minimum wage is good for the economy, it’s good for business, and it’s good for revenue in the Commonwealth of Virginia.”

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