Submitted by Sen. Cory McCray
Over the last several years, advocates, unions, and political leaders have been advocating for increasing the minimum wage to $15 an hour. At the same time, this initiative has surged in popularity – 61% of Marylanders now support a $15 minimum wage according to a poll released by Gonzales Research & Media in January 2019.
The case for raising the minimum wage isn’t a tough one to make. As costs have gone up, it’s become harder for working-class families to afford a decent quality of life. Basic necessities like groceries and health care shouldn’t be something that families are struggling to access. An increase in our state’s minimum wage is one decisive action we can take to ease the burden on working-class families.
This is of particular importance when we consider the fact that presently,many workers in some of our state’s largest employers, like hospitals, hotels, and local and state government contractors, are making below $15 an hour. It simply is not possible to provide for a family on that wage. As a result, many of these workers are working two or three jobs in order to make ends meet. Not to mention, it’s more likely that the children of these workers are taking care of themselves because the costs of childcare are too high for their income. This is a reality we can no longer accept.
The benefits of a minimum wage increase are numerous. In particular, studies have shown that black and brown people will feel the largest impact, and that the specific demographic that will benefit the most will be African American women. Representing one of the most impoverished districts across the State of Maryland, I know that communities such as Belair Edison, Berea, Oliver, and Bocek stand to benefit greatly from this policy initiative.
We have also seen a tremendous outpouring of support from the business community. During last year’s introduction of the “Fight for $15,” I was proud to read the testimony of many small business owners such as Tim Cureton, the owner of Rise Up Coffee Roasters on the Eastern Shore, and Gina Schaefer, the owner of A Few Cool Hardware Stores, which includes Ace Hardware in Waverly, Canton, Federal Hill, and Takoma Park. I have also been enthused to see that business coalitions such as the Greater Baltimore Committee has stepped up to lead the charge and support an increase in the minimum wage.
That is why it has been all the more disappointing to learn of Governor Hogan’s concerns and reservations about raising the minimum wage. The majority of Marylanders who support the “Fight for $15” know that this is an initiative that isn’t just good for those directly affected; it’s a policy decision that will benefit the entire State of Maryland. The additional money that workers will see reflected in their paychecks will be injected back into our state’s economy, supporting local businesses that employ Maryland residents.
I am proud that bold Democratic leaders like Chairman Derek Davis, Speaker Busch, Senate President Mike Miller, Mayor Catherine Pugh, Montgomery County Executive Mark Erlich, Howard County Executive Calvin Ball, Baltimore County Executive Johnny O, and so many more have spoken out vocally in support of this bill. Together, they are sending a strong message that there is strength in numbers. As leaders, we have the utmost responsibility to lift the quality of life for our most vulnerable neighbors who want the same fighting chance for their children. I am honored to stand beside them in the Fight for $15.
Simply put, increasing the minimum wage to $15 is the right thing to do for Maryland families – and it’s the right thing to do now.
Cory McCray is a member of the Maryland State Senate, representing the 45th District, which encompasses Northeast and East Baltimore City.
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