In its ongoing effort to make the workplace less friendly to working people, the Maryland legislature voted today to raise the minimum wage in Maryland to $6.15, overriding a veto by Governor Ehrlich.
This vote comes quick on the heels of its earlier decision to make Maryland a less hospitable place for Wal-Mart to do business.
Both of these pieces of legislation make it harder for low-wage, low-skilled workers to find work in Maryland.
The opening of the Washington Post story treats the debate over raising the minimum wage as a worker vs. business struggle:
The Maryland General Assembly today voted to raise the state’s minimum
wage by $1 an hour, brushing aside concerns by Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich
Jr. (R) that the move would hurt small businesses.
For those of you keeping score at home:
Good Guys: Maryland General Assembly that cares about the poor.
Bad Guy: Governor Ehrlich who cares about business.
Friend of the worker: GA
Friend of business: Gov
You have to go farther down the page to find out that the Governor actually cares about workers:
In his veto message last spring, Ehrlich called passage of the bill
"a bad decision that elevates politics over economics and ultimately
hurts the people it claims to help."
He argued that small
businesses would either have to raise costs for consumers or fire
low-wage workers, arguing that "more than half of minimum wage workers
nationally are of high school or college-age, and minimum wage jobs for
them are a means by which to enter the labor market and acquire skills
necessary for career advancement."
Here’s the Governor’s statement from last spring. It closes with this observation:
I believe that each working person deserves an appropriate wage that
reflects his or her work, skill level, and productivity. Accordingly, I
believe employment and education provide the necessary foundation for
future success in life. Raising the minimum wage reduces employment
opportunities for those who need it most, thereby limiting an
individual’s training, experience and skills.
For the above stated reasons, I do not believe Maryland should break
from its long history of respecting the federal government establishing
a minimum wage. Accordingly, I have vetoed House Bill 391.
It is a bad week for Maryland.