Wednesday, May 24, 2017

$8.50 an hour is a poverty wage

As far as the Republicans in the Louisiana House of Representatives are concerned, it's still probably too good for you.
To date, 29 states and Washington D.C. have minimum wages that are higher than the federal minimum wage. In Louisiana, 5.3 percent of workers earn the federal minimum wage or lower. Employees like restaurant waitstaff and agricultural employees are exempt from the wage laws. But Louisiana has a higher percentage of workers who earn minimum wages than any other state in the nation.

Jan Moller, executive director of the Louisiana Budget Project, said the hike would have given effected workers an additional $852 per year. He noted that one in three of those workers are single parents. About 119,000 children live in homes where their parents or guardians earn minimum wages.

But the Republican majority of the committee expressed concerns that business owners dealing with the increased costs would ultimately lay off staff or automate the entry level jobs creating even less opportunity.

Sen. Jack Donahue, R-Mandeville, said people who feel they're being underpaid have the freedom to seek out another job.
Sure. If you find that you are among the estimated 127,000 Louisianians held in destitution by a degradingly low wage floor, it's probably because you hate freedom or something.  There are worse quotes than Donahue's from today's debate. But the Republicans are either operating on a 5th grade understanding of economic policy or they're being insultingly disingenuous. Let's be nice and assume it's the latter. Either way, nothing they said is worth taking seriously enough to argue with.

In any case, they don't care. What they do care about is beating the Governor. And since raising the minimum wage (even this piddling, insignificant amount) was a key campaign promise of his, they're not going to help him accomplish even that.

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