ANNAPOLIS — Gov. Martin O’Malley said Tuesday he will focus on raising the state’s minimum wage during his last full legislative session as Maryland’s governor.
O’Malley underscored the wage issue as a top priority while speaking at a luncheon of the Maryland Democratic Party, a day before the state’s 90-day session is scheduled to begin.
The Democrat’s second term ends next January and he can’t run for a third. He didn’t say how much he believed the $7.25 minimum wage should be increased. Still, he reaffirmed his commitment to support what will surely be a major issue of the election-year session.
“When workers have the ability to spend more money, our economy does better,” O’Malley said. “When people bring home more pay in their pockets and have more in the family checkbook, that helps our economy. That helps our businesses.”
Republican Sen. David Brinkley, R-Frederick, disagreed. The Senate minority leader questioned how an increased minimum wage would impact employers in Western Maryland, and he said it would certainly add to the cost of employment. That could cause employers to hire fewer people, particularly for summer jobs.
“It can’t be good for those who don’t get a job,” Brinkley said.
Montgomery and Prince George’s counties already have approved minimum wage increases each year up to $11.50 by 2017. Lawmakers have noted it would be hard to raise it by that much statewide, and some have suggested a benchmark above $7.25 while allowing counties to go over it.