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Governor, Business Owners Tout Minimum Wage Hike

Christopher Connelly/WYPR

Gov. Martin O’Malley met with small business owners yesterday at Linemark, a printing company in Upper Marlboro. He was there to tout his plan to raise the state’s minimum wage and talk with business owners from around the state.

Linemark and the rest of the companies represented at the event pay their workers above the state’s minimum wage.

WYPR’s Christopher Connelly sat down with the governor afterward to talk about the minimum wage, which the House of Delegates will give its final vote on the measure later today.

On the economic case for raising the minimum wage.

“The business owners I talked to today know that when workers earn more money, businesses have more customers, and that’s really how our economy grows. That’s why we made our country the envy of the world. We had the strongest, fastest, most upwardly mobile middle class on the planet just a few decades ago. But we’ve turned away from the formula that made us great.”

On why the now is the right time to raise the minimum wage.

“Eight years ago, the Maryland General Assembly – over the veto of the former Republican governor – by large margins passed an increase to the minimum wage. And it’s time to do that again. That’s because there are 21 other states that have a higher minimum wage than we do as Marylanders, even though we have the highest median income of any state in the union. So it has come time.”

On the House Economic Matters Committee’s removal of a provision to index the minimum wage to the Consumer Price Index.

“I think legislatures by their nature tend not to index the things that they should, and they tend to index too many things that they shouldn’t. When it comes to annual expenditures, I think having the ability to make those judgments in order to balance the budget is something that’s important for fiscal discipline. But when it comes to things like the minimum wage, I think we would all be better served if it were indexed to inflation or the cost of living. I’m hoping that the senate in their consideration of this will revisit the indexing. And at the very least I hope they’ll pass the $10.10.”

Governor O’Malley said it seemed unlikely that the Senate would return the provision to index the minimum wage to inflation starting in 2018 back into the bill. But, he said, “sometimes legislatures surprise us.”

Christopher Connelly is a political reporter for WYPR, covering the day-to-day movement and machinations in Annapolis. He comes to WYPR from NPR, where he was a Joan B. Kroc Fellow, produced for weekend All Things Considered and worked as a rundown editor for All Things Considered. Chris has a master’s degree in journalism from UC Berkeley. He’s reported for KALW (San Francisco), KUSP (Santa Cruz, Calif.) and KJZZ (Phoenix), and worked at StoryCorps in Brooklyn, N.Y. He’s filed stories on a range of topics, from a shortage of dog blood in canine blood banks to heroin addicts in Tanzania. He got his start in public radio at WYSO in Yellow Springs, Ohio, when he was a student at Antioch College.