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Gov. Hogan proposes raising Maryland's minimum wage to $12.10, instead of $15

Baltimore Sun logoBaltimore Sun 3/9/2019 Luke Broadwater, Pamela Wood
a man wearing a suit and tie: Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan delivers his State of the State address on Jan. 30, 2019, to a joint session of the General Assembly in Annapolis. © Bill O'Leary / The Washington Post Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan delivers his State of the State address on Jan. 30, 2019, to a joint session of the General Assembly in Annapolis.

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan on Friday proposed raising the state’s minimum wage to $12.10 an hour instead of a $15 wage backed by state Democratic leaders.

In a letter to Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller and House Speaker Michael Busch, the Republican governor proposed phasing in a $2 raise to the wage by 2022.

The state’s minimum wage is now $10.10 an hour.

“I am extremely concerned a dramatic and geographically disproportionate increase in our minimum wage will negatively impact our competitiveness and harm our state’s economy,” Hogan wrote.

Under Hogan’s proposal, any minimum wage increases after 2022 could only take place if surrounding states, on average, have a minimum wage that is at least 80 percent of Maryland’s minimum wage. Hogan wrote that Maryland lawmakers “should be extremely careful to not allow an increase to place us so far above our regional competitors.”

Pennsylvania and Virginia follow the federal minimum wage of $7.25. Delaware and West Virginia have a minimum wage of $8.75, with Delaware’s scheduled to increase to $9.25 this fall. The minimum wage in the District of Columbia is $13.25, going up to $14 this summer.

Proponents of increasing Maryland’s minimum wage to $15 took a dim view of Hogan’s suggestion.

“The residents of Maryland need $15 today, and $12.10 is not at all going to help the working families who are trying to deal with the high cost of living in the state of Maryland. I think this attempt needs to go back to the drawing board,” said Ricarra Jones of the SEIU union and the “Fight for $15” coalition.

Jones compared Hogan’s counteroffer to his proposal several years ago for paid sick leave. Unlike legislators’ 2017 bill, the governor’s plan would have applied only to companies with 50 or more workers. The General Assembly passed its own bill, Hogan vetoed it and the legislature overrode the veto in 2018.

“It’s the same playbook,” Jones said.

House Speaker Michael Busch and Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller declined to comment on Hogan’s proposal. They’ve made increasing the minimum wage to $15 one of their priorities for the current General Assembly session.

The House of Delegates has already approved a bill that gradually increases the minimum wage to $15 per hour by 2025. Its vote of 96-44 was well above the 85 votes that would be needed to override a gubernatorial veto. A version advancing in the state Senate gives companies with fewer than 15 employees until 2028 to reach the $15 minimum wage.

Both versions stop the increases at $15. Lawmakers have removed a provision in the bills that would have created automatic increases tied to the federal Consumer Price Index. As a result, any increases beyond $15 would need further legislation.

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