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New Legislative Bid for $15 Minimum Wage in Ohio

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Is a $15 minimum wage a boon for workers or a job killer? (Adobeworkers)
Is a $15 minimum wage a boon for workers or a job killer? (Adobeworkers)
January 26, 2021

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- There's a renewed bid to raise Ohio's minimum wage to $15 per hour.

Rep. Brigid Kelly, D-Cincinnati, asked colleagues to co-sponsor a bill modeled after a recently passed ballot initiative in Florida.

The Ohio measure calls for the current wage of $8.80 an hour to be raised to $10 in 2022. It would then increase every year until hitting $15 in 2027.

Kelly said too many working Ohioans can't make ends meet, including some full-time workers.

"We can't continue to bury our heads in the sand," Kelly contended. "We need to be modernizing our minimum wage, creating a pathway for people and families to be able to take care of themselves and to be able to meaningfully participate in our economy."

Sen. Cecil Thomas, D-Cincinnati, and Sen. Hearcel Craig, D-Columbus, have introduced a companion bill in the Senate.

Meanwhile, President Joe Biden wants to more than double the current federal minimum wage to $15 an hour. It's been stuck at $7.25 since 2009.

Research on the impact of a $15 minimum wage varies widely. A 2019 report from left-leaning think tank Policy Matters Ohio found roughly two million Ohioans would benefit from a $15 minimum wage.

Michael Saltsman, managing director for the fiscally conservative Employment Policies Institute, pointed to the Congressional Budget Office's research.

"The specific numbers they found are you're going to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour and you'll pull about 1.3 million people out of poverty, but at the cost of anywhere from 1.3 million to 3.7 million jobs," Saltsman asserted.

However, newly confirmed Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen recently said a $15 an hour minimum wage would have a minimal impact on jobs, and Kelly argued it would increase productivity and consumer spending.

"The bottom line is, if minimum wage had kept up with productivity, it would be over $20 an hour," Kelly observed. "And research is showing that increases in minimum wage do not cost jobs. But in fact, folks have more money in their pockets to spend in our communities."

Ohio voters approved a constitutional amendment in 2006 that indexes Ohio's minimum wage to inflation.

Reporting by Ohio News Connection in association with Media in the Public Interest and funded in part by the George Gund Foundation.

Mary Schuermann Kuhlman, Public News Service - OH