In the 2014 General Assembly session, Governor O’Malley proposed legislation to increase the minimum wage from $7.25 to $10.10 along with other provisions affecting wages in Maryland.
This legislation was heard by the Senate Finance Committee on which Senator Kittleman has served for the last 8 years. The committee also held multiple work sessions on the legislation bringing in experts to discuss the various components of the bill.
Raising the minimum wage is a very complex issue. Requiring higher minimum wages affects wages for many wage earners who are actually earning more than the minimum wage. Employers cannot increase the wages of those earning the minimum wage and not also increase the wages for those employees who are already making more than the minimum wage.
While Senator Kittleman would like everyone’s wages to increase, he also had to evaluate the impact on jobs. He met with Howard County business leaders, including minority business owners, who expressed deep concerns over the proposed increase.
At the Senate Finance Committee, experts testified that should the minimum wage legislation be enacted, we would likely lose thousands of jobs.
After meeting with advocates on both sides of this issue, Senator Kittleman decided that while he could not support an increase to $10.10, he believed that an increase to $9.00 would be a fair compromise which would help raise wages, but not greatly impact local small businesses.
Therefore, he voted for an amendment that would increase the minimum wage to $9.00 in July, 2014. Unfortunately, the amendment was not successful. Instead, the legislature enacted a phase in approach where the minimum wage would not reach $9.00 per hour until July, 2017.