It looks like new life has been breathed into a stalled Delaware minimum wage bill.
Currently minimum wage in Delaware mirrors the federal level of $7.25/hour. Senate Bill 6 would increase the state’s minimum wage to $8.25/hour.
Passed by the state Senate in March, the measure was tabled in the state House Economic Development Committee. Claymont Rep. Bryon Short chairs the committee; he voted against the legislation twice fearing an increase would shutter businesses. However now the small business owner is singing a different tune.
“I believe now is the right time to support and pass a minimum wage increase for Delaware workers,” Short said in a statement posted by the Democratic caucus.
“I believe a combination of the economic indicators I have been looking for are present,” he said, which includes a relatively stable time on the road to economic recovery and the state’s October unemployment rate of 6.8 percent, the lowest rate in nearly five years.
And with newfound support from Dover Rep. Andria Bennett, who also voted against the bill, SB 6 is expected to clear committee and head to the full floor for a vote when the General Assembly reconvenes next month.
“Families should not have to choose between buying groceries and paying their electric bills,” Bennett wrote in a statement of her own. “By raising the minimum wage, we will help thousands of Delaware families feel more secure in their ability to pay for life’s necessities.”
Rep. John Kowalko, D-Newark South, supports raising the minimum wage, saying it’s good economic policy.
“You know who spends the most money? The people that grab the scraps off the table. They stuff a few in their mouth to keep them going till tomorrow and they spend the rest of them for shoes for their kids. That’s the way economies are driven,” Kowalko said.
A week ago President Obama said he would back increasing the federal minimum wage to $10.10/hour. Meantime, fast food workers across the country have participated in several one day strikes demanding $15/hour.
Small business owners have said raising the minimum wage would hurt their bottom lines at a time when they’re still trying to recover from the economic recession.
The restaurant industry echoes those concerns, saying a wage increase will mean fewer jobs and a trend towards more automation.