Cape Gazette
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Delaware needs to increase minimum wage

By Thomas J. O’Hagan | Jan 24, 2014

Raising the minimum wage has already been approved by the American public; 76 percent of us say we would vote for raising the minimum wage to $9 an hour and 69 percent of us say we would vote to raise the minimum wage to $9 an hour with automatic increases tied to the inflation rate.

Workers cannot support their families on the minimum wage. They are forced to rely on federal assistance such as food stamps and Medicaid paid for from our taxes. In essence our tax dollars are used to increase the profits of business owners who do not pay fair, livable wages.

High school and college students trying to work to save money for college rather than go tens of thousands of dollars in debt to complete college are also entitled to a fair wage.

If business owners really believe that they are paying fair wages maybe they should walk a mile in the shoes of their workers and try to live on a minimum wage salary for one month or one year. Then come back and say that they are paying fair wages at $7.25 or $8.25 an hour.

Workers will spend the additional money on their families. Economists point out that every $1 put into the economy generates $3 in total purchasing power as it is spent and respent. This will work to add new jobs to the economy.

Delaware tried to raise the minimum wage last year. The original bill called for future increases linked to the cost of living. The Senate passed a watered down version that would increase the minimum wage to $7.75 in 2014 and to $8.25 in 2015. The cost of living provision was eliminated. But even this weakened bill stalled in the House Economic Development Committee. The committee chair, Rep. Bryon Short, has recently expressed his support for the bill and scheduled a committee hearing and vote that would raise the minimum wage to $8.25 in 2015.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. believed all workers, regardless of skill level, should make enough "so they can live and educate their children and buy a home and have the basic necessities of life." Please get in touch with your elected state representatives and Gov. Markell and urge them to work for a bill that will increase the minimum wage to $9 with annual cost of living provisions. Contact information can be found at www.legis.delaware.gov

Thomas J. O’Hagan
Lewes

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