OLYMPIA, Wash. - The movement for a higher minimum wage gets a new push from the governor of Washington, but opponents said it's a mistake.
In the biggest sign yet that the higher minimum-wage movement has entered the mainstream, Governor Jay Inslee added his support in his State of the State address.
“I'm calling today for a statewide increase in our minimum wage,” the governor said, to applause from Democrats in a joint session of the the Washington State Legislature.
Washington already has the highest statewide minimum wage at $9.32 an hour. Governor Inslee suggested raising it to perhaps $11.50 or $12.50 an hour.
“In every community, there are people who don't share in our state's prosperity and we need to do something about that,” Inslee said.
Seattle Mayor Ed Murray was at the Capitol as a special guest of the governor. Murray is working on $15 an hour for the city.
“I think it will help the Seattle effort because it's now a statewide conversation and not just a conversation in Seattle,” Murray told reporters after the speech.
But Senate Republican leaders said a higher minimum wage will damage the economy.
“In my opinion, if you raise the minimum wage you're going to have more small businesses go out of business, which means more people lose jobs,” said Senator Linda Evans Parlette of Wenatchee. “It's the wrong direction.”