Raising Texas’ minimum wage up for debate

Rally at Austin City Hall fighting for $15 an hour minimum wage. (KXAN Photo/Todd Bynum)
Rally at Austin City Hall fighting for $15 an hour minimum wage. (KXAN Photo/Todd Bynum)

AUSTIN (NEXSTAR) — On Monday, the House Committee on Business and Industry will take a look at nine bills filed this session aimed at raising the state’s minimum wage.

The minimum wage in Texas is sitting at $7.25 per hour, which is also the minimum allowed by the federal government. Some lawmakers hope to change that to $10.10 per hour, and a few lawmakers want to double it to $15.

“If they don’t pass anything, then literally hundreds of thousands of Texans will continue to live in abject poverty despite working full-time for a living,” Rick Levy, the secretary treasurer at Texas American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations said, “and we think that’s just wrong.”

Levy says $7.25 an hour is a “poverty wage,” meaning Texans who work full time on this pay qualify for food stamp type benefits.

“We think $15 is appropriate,” Levy said. “If it is $10 then people will get a significant raise. If it is $12 they will get an even more significant raise.”

Economist Vance Ginn with the Texas Public Policy Foundation says raising the minimum wage may seem helpful on its surface, but would actually do more damage than good.

“The research shows that if you increase the minimum wage, workers are going to be fired in the process,” Ginn said. “And some research shows that as many as a million Texans would lose their jobs if we raise it from $7.25 today to $15 an hour.”

Ginn plans on testifying against the proposals during Monday’s hearing. He says many small businesses will be forced to shut down simply because they can’t afford to pay their employees.

“That person who is having a tough time getting by now will have a much more difficult time if they have no income at all,” Ginn said.

The federal minimum wage has not changed in more than seven years, and neither has the state minimum wage.

In 2009 the feds raised it from $6.55 per hour to $7.25. Currently 29 states and the District of Columbia have a minimum wage higher than the federal floor.

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