Boosting Maryland’s minimum wage from $7.25 an hour to $12.50 would be a boon for some. But for many more, it might mean the unemployment line.
Delegate Keith E. Haynes of Baltimore is proposing the near-doubling of the minimum wage paid in the state. He said he will prefile legislation for the 2014 legislative session in Annapolis.
While there is support in some parts of the state for hiking the wage, opposition is expected in rural regions like Western Maryland.
Senator George Edwards, who represents Garrett and Allegany counties and a portion of Washington County, said while it would be nice for everyone to make more money, the simple economics, especially in rural areas, could be devastating. Increasing the minimum wage increases the taxes employers have to pay, and the sales volume for most businesses in rural areas simply doesn’t bring in sufficient cash for a big jump in the current $7.25 per hour minimum wage, he said,.
Another problem was cited by Delegate Kevin Kelly of Allegany County. He said small business owners already are concerned about the potential negative impact of the Obama health care program and the economic recession that has yet to leave Western Maryland.
A different point of view is being expressed by downstate politicians — especially those running for election in 2014.
Attorney General Doug Gansler, who is in the gubernatorial race, said during a political appearance in Gaithersburg: “Here in Maryland, we’re a progressive state. We ought to take care of the people who work every day and make sure that they make enough money to actually be able to live and survive in our economy.”
But if thousands of jobs are eliminated because businesses can’t afford to pay a $12.50 per hour wage, how can do anything but hurt the very people who already are struggling? Many of the minimum wage jobs are part-time positions that help workers augment their pay from other workplaces.
Maryland lawmakers should not pass legislation that will benefit some at the expense of many others.