Gov. Jay Inslee told reporters on Wednesday raising the minimum wage could be “up to the people,” after an announcement by Sen. Michael Baumgartner, R-Spokane, that the legislation would not pass this year.
Baumgartner, the chair of the Senate Commerce and Labor Committee, said Tuesday that bill would not pass his committee.
“This proposed minimum wage increase would be devastating to countless small businesses,” Baumgartner said in a prepared statement. “I won’t put people in Eastern Washington out of work to placate the egos of extreme Seattle liberals.”
House Bill 1355 would have raised the minimum wage to $10 an hour in 2016, $10.50 in 2017, $11 in 2018, reaching $12 an hour in 2019, and then be adjusted for inflation afterward. The bill passed 51 to 46 off the House floor.
Inslee had requested the minimum wage increase legislation.
“If you work 40 hours a week and you do a good job, you ought to be able to have the basic necessities of life,” Inslee said. “This is an important issue to people, it has overwhelming support. Now that progress will be up to the people.”
Inslee on Wednesday said the fact that “four red states” passed minimum wage laws recently showed how important the issue is to citizens. Alaska, Arkansas, Nebraska and South Dakota, voted to raise their minimum wages in those states last year.
Of the four, Alaska might have a minimum wage higher than Washington’s by 2016. Washington’s current minimum wage is $9.47 an hour and adjusts each year for inflation. Illinois voters showed their support for a $10 minimum wage last year, but the change still needs approval by the Illinois state legislature.
Rep. Jessyn Farrell, D-Seattle, expressed disappointment over the legislature’s failure to pass a bill.
“We will keep fighting to bring a fair wage to all corners of Washington,” Farrell said in a prepared statement.