Senate votes to raise min. wage to $9.20

LANSING, Mich. (WOOD/AP) — A Republican bill to raise the minimum wage to $9.20 an hour has passed the Michigan Senate.

The bill proposed by Senate Majority Leader Randy Richardville passed 24-14 with bipartisan support.

Senate Majority Leader Randy Richardville discusses his minimum wage bill with 24 Hour News 8 Political Reporter Rick Albin. (May 15, 2014)
(Senate Majority Leader Randy Richardville discusses his minimum wage bill with 24 Hour News 8 Political Reporter Rick Albin. May 15, 2014)

Sarah Palmer and her boyfriend Chris Girard both work at Sweetwater’s Doughnuts in Battle Creek. He makes the doughnuts and she sells them.

“I barely make it paycheck to paycheck,” Palmer said.

They both make $7.75 an hour. She works part-time and he full-time. Together, they make about $1,500 a month.

“The apartment alone is about $800. And one job alone is $800. And then you have to put food on top of that, that’s another $200. Car payment, that’s $300, Car insurance is $50,” she said. “It’s impossible.”

They get $28 a month on a Bridge Card for food. They don’t have luxuries like cable and Internet and watch every penny they spend.

Richardville’s bill  would tie the minimum wage to inflation with a cap. The Republican from Monroe initially proposed a target wage of $8.15, but Thursday changed it to $9.20 by 2017 after negotiations.

It would also  raise the wage for tipped employees from $2.65 to $3.50 by 2017.

At $7.40 per hour, Michigan ranks above the national minimum wage rate of $7.25. But it’s below nearby states like Ohio, which has a minimum wage of $7.95 per hour, and Illinois at $8.25 per hour.

If the hike goes into effect, Michigan would eventually have one of the highest minimum wage rates in the country. Washington and Oregon are the only states in the nation that have minimum wage rates above $9 per hour.

Currently in Michigan, a full-time minimum wage job before taxes pays around $296 a week. By 2017, if the bill passes, that amount would be more like $368 dollars a week — an increase of $72 a week before taxes.

Palmer says every little bit helps.

“I’m not asking for a crazy $15 an hour wage,” Palmer said. “Just something to get paycheck to paycheck. I don’t smoke, I don’t have kids, I don’t drink I’m not covered in tattoos and I’m barely making it. It’s ridiculous.”

The measure, if it becomes law, could thwart a ballot drive to gradually raise the minimum wage to $10.10 by 2017. The campaign has collected more than the 258,000 signatures needed for a measure to appear on the November ballot to amend current law.

The bill, which repeals the existing wage law and enacts a new one, now goes to the House of Representatives for consideration.

Thursday, the press secretary for Speaker of the House Jase Bolger (R-Marshall) released this statement:

“Sen. Richardville’s minimum wage bill needs to be closely reviewed because it makes many changes to the law that Speaker Bolger has grave concerns about. We will not make any decisions about what to do with the bill until we have a chance to get a better understanding of the potential negative impact of this proposal on Michigan’s working families and job providers.”

Regardless, sources told 24 Hour News 8 Political Reporter Rick Albin the lower chamber could take up the measure next week and it could be on the governor’s desk before the end of the month.



The U.S. Department of Labor on minimum wages across the country

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