Ky. minimum wage bill faces hurdles before Senate approval - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Ky. minimum wage bill faces hurdles before Senate approval

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New legislation could boost servers' wages to 70 percent of the minimum wage. New legislation could boost servers' wages to 70 percent of the minimum wage.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- A bill raising the minimum wage in Kentucky passed the House this week, but the measure could have a significant impact beyond the pay raise for employees.

Johnny Stark delivers a hot meal at Highland Morning on Bardstown Road.

"Single guy supporting myself on a server's salary," Stark said. 

And in the back of his mind, the big debate cooking in Frankfort that could change his life.

"People are living check-to-check, day-to-day," Stark said. 
House Bill 1 not only raises the minimum wage from $7.25 to $10.10 an hour by 2016, but corresponding legislation would see servers like Stark, who are earning $2.35 an hour, boosted to 70 percent of the minimum wage.

"I think you'd be talking about a really positive impact for a lot of people who work a position that we take a little bit for granted," Stark said. 

Both bills passed the Kentucky House this week, but face uphill battles in the Republican-led Senate. 

"One of the problems is that it also tends to increase prices. The businesses that hire minimum wage workers pass those prices along," explained Josh Pinkston, professor of labor and economics at the University of Louisville.  

"It's not the end of the world. It's not going to double the unemployment rate or anything but it's also not a very efficient way to help the working poor."

There's also concern that if the Bluegrass State boosts its pay, then companies will look elsewhere to do business. 

Congressman John Yarmuth contends it may be much faster for states to act individually because a federal minimum wage hike looks to be going nowhere in Congress. 

Reports show 9 percent of the state, 400,000 Kentuckians, are stuck at minimum wage.

For 33-year-old Stark, the struggle continues to get the dollars to make sense. 

"Delegate a little bit more money so that these people can have a little bit more an hour, I think you'd see a lot of positives socially and economically throughout the city," Stark said.

Local governments and school districts are also anxiously watching the minimum wage debate. One reports says going from $7.25 to $10.10 an hour could cost them $40 million over the next 10 years. 

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