OLYMPIA – The debate over raising the statewide minimum wage has largely revolved around dependable partisan arguments: up-by-the-bootstraps Republicans saying it isn’t necessary or that it would kill businesses and Democrats bent on fixing income inequality.
Enter Sen. Mark Miloscia, R-Federal Way, a former Democrat, with what he calls a “grand compromise.”
Miloscia dropped a bill Tuesday, SB 6029, that would scrap local authority to raise the minimum wage — meaning it would nix Seattle’s $15 per hour minimum wage approved last year. Instead, Miloscia’s proposal would index the wage to both urban inflation and personal income growth.
The wage would rise annually with inflation, and also increase when the state’s per capita personal income growth rises. If the state entered a recession and personal income growth fell, however, the wage wouldn’t drop with it, according to Miloscia.
The combination should allow the minimum wage to increase by about 45 cents each year, according to Miloscia’s calculations. “Small enough to for a businesses to handle, absorb,” he said Tuesday afternoon.
There would also be tax breaks for businesses to help cushion any financial discomfort. But if it passes, Miloscia says it could be “the last minimum wage bill we ever have.”
If it became law, there would be no wage floor beyond the current state law of $9.47. That means it might not get the warmest reception in Seattle, where the minimum wage is scheduled to increase to $11 an hour in April.
Given a brief description of the bill Monday afternoon, Seattle Mayor Ed Murray positioned himself strongly against it.
“It’s simply an attempt to deprive workers of the raise they’re about to get in a few weeks — minimum-wage workers struggling to feed their families and keep roofs over their heads,” Murray told Seattle Times reporter Daniel Beekman.
“It might be a formula that works in certain parts of the state,” but not in Seattle, where the cost of living is higher than elsewhere, he said.