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  • Facts Should Determine Living Wage Decision
    by Elizabeth Roberts, Utah House Democratic Caucus
    Published - 03/04/14 - 09:03 AM | 0 0 comments | 20 20 recommendations | email to a friend | print
    Living Wage
    Living Wage
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    (SALT LAKE CITY, Utah) - Living Wage House Bill 73 was heard in House Health and Human Services committee. The bill raises the minimum wage from $7.25 to $10.25 for workers and from $2.13 to $3.13 for restaurant servers. The main complaint facing the bill is the probable cost to the state and to small businesses.

    Representative Lynn Hemingway, the bill's author, said, "Committee members made a brave choice to allow this bill to be heard today. Facts should determine whether or not this goes forward, not ideology. The fact is that the current minimum wage does not provide a way for workers to live with dignity, to accomplish their goals. These facts will come out in interim study. We have the tools to lower unemployment, increase educational attainment and boost people's chances to climb out of poverty. We have a tendency to blame the poor instead of the system we have set up that has continued to damn them."

    The bill's fiscal note claims a $20 million price tag from public and higher education. Representative Hemingway continued, "The biggest cost attached to this bill is in education, which directly confronts the systemic lack of funding for our education system. Our priorities are all backwards right now. We need to put our money where our mouth is. We need to support our hardest working employees and give them a chance to live, not survive."

    HB 73 would affect 35,000 Utah employees, 85% of which are over 20 years of age and working full time. Representative Hemingway hopes that an increase in the living wage would lessen the dependency on the social safety net, and support working parents who have not had the chance to earn college degrees. "We either reward people for their hard work, or we support their families through government programs. These are the decisions we have to make now."

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