House Democrats introduced a bill Thursday that would boost the state’s minimum wage nearly 30 percent, to $12 an hour, by 2017.
Under the proposal, the state’s current $9.32 cent-an-hour minimum wage would increase to $10 an hour starting Jan. 1, 2015, and would get another $1 an hour bump at the beginning of 2016 and again in 2017, according to Democratic sources.
After that, wage increases would revert back to the current method, which ties bumps in pay to inflation. House Democrats have a news conference scheduled for 12:30 p.m. Thursday.
The GOP-led caucus controlling the Senate has indicated it’s opposed to increasing the minimum wage, arguing it would put Washington state businesses at a competitive disadvantage.
It’s not clear at this point if the measure will get a floor vote in the House. More than 30 House Democrats have signed onto the bill, but some members of the caucus do not support the legislation. It takes 50 votes to pass a measure in the House. Democrats control the chamber, 55-43.
Gov. Jay Inslee in his state of the state address this year called for increasing the state minimum wage by up to $2.50 an hour, calling it “a step toward closing the widening economic gap.” The House proposal goes a bit beyond Inslee’s.
Increasing the minimum wage to help bridge growing income disparity has become a hot topic across the nation and locally.
It was a dominant issue last year in Seattle campaigns. Seattle City Councilmember Kshama Sawant ran as a socialist on a platform of a $15 minimum wage for all workers. One of Seattle Mayor Ed Murray’s first moves after taking office was an executive order telling his staff to take the first steps toward raising the minimum wage for city workers to $15 an hour.
Rep. Jessyn Farrell, D-Seattle, is the prime sponsor of the House measure. She’s a rookie lawmaker from the 46th District, which includes parts of northeast Seattle, Lake Forest Park and Kenmore.