A campaign has been launched to gradually raise Maryland’s minimum wage from $7.25 to $10 by 2015.
Maryland Sen. Rob Garagiola, a Democrat from a Germantown, and Prince George’s County lawmaker Del. Aisha N. Braveboy are co-sponsoring legislation and held a rally Tuesday in Annapolis to garner support.
The legislation will be introduced in the next two weeks, Garagiola said in a statement released to media.
“Maryland workers are in desperate need of a raise,” Garagiola said in the emailed statement. “Our people are working harder but aren’t earning more, and it’s time to give a much needed boost to our economy. Raising the minimum wage would not only put more money in the pockets of these workers but also increase business activity in our state.”
The campaign—Raise Maryland—has reportedly gained backing from union leaders, Democrat groups, and other community groups such as the NAACP andCASA de Maryland.
How it Would Work
Under the proposal, Maryland's minimum wage would be increased in three increments—to $8.25 in 2013; $9 in 2014; and $10 in 2015—and would be "indexed" in 2016 to keep up with increases in the cost of living.
The minimum wage would also increase for tipped workers, such as waitresses, carwash attendants and nail salon workers, from 50 percent of the minimum wage to 70 percent.
Maryland’s rate is the same as the federal rate, at $7.25. But 19 states have set higher minimum wage rates, according to federal data. Washington State offers the top rate, at $9.19.
Minimum wages are not required in five states, federal data show.
Locally, minimum-wage workers in Washington, DC earn a dollar more than their cohorts in Maryland and Virginia, which also has a minimum wage of $7.25.
Maryland's minimum wage was last increased in 2005, according to Garagiola.
Raise the Rate Part Two?
There was an unsuccessful attempt to enact similar legislation in 2011.
At the time, Garagiola reportedly told state politics blog MarylandReporter.com that a wage hike would help the state’s economy and re-center the distribution of wealth:
“The argument is very strong that we need to raise it from the level we’re at today,” Garagiola said. “We’ve seen over the last several decades a growing disparity between high-wage earners and low-wage earners.”
Garagiola had gained the backing of 14 other senators, state legislative records show.
But business owners quoted in the same MarylandReporter.com account complained that raising the minimum wage would mean having to cut employees' hours or worse—having to let workers go.