Congressman Yarmuth and other Democrats pushing for $10 minimum - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Congressman Yarmuth and other Democrats pushing for $10 minimum wage

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- U.S. Rep. John Yarmuth of Louisville staged a rally, alongside fellow Democrats and labor leaders, to push for an increase in the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour.

For Democrats, raising the minimum wage has become a popular campaign issue that is even generating support from some business owners.

When Erinn Lee opened Smokey's Bean coffee shop three years ago, she decided to pay above the minimum wage.

Workers at the restaurant start at $8.50 an hour and can quickly move to $9.50.

Lee says it's just good business, considering what it costs to train new employees.

"I want that investment to pay off, so if I pay them well enough, they'll stay here. If they're happy and productive, that makes my business more productive and happy," she said.

That's why Lee joined 3rd District U.S. Rep. John Yarmuth and a coalition of Democrats and labor leaders for a rally.

They're pushing to raise the minimum wage from $7.25 to $10.10 an hour over three years.

"Today's minimum wage isn't just inadequate, it's insulting," Yarmuth told the crowd.

Yarmuth maintains that raising the wage would add money to the economy and reduce dependence on welfare

"We know what it costs to live in this country, and 7.25 is totally inadequate. And we know the economy grows when we raise the minimum wage," he said in an interview.

Dr. Michael MacFarlane, the Republican who's opposing Yarmuth this fall, disagrees.

"If you raise the minimum wage to 10.10, you're actually going to hurt the very people you want to help," he said.

Macfarlane points to a report by the Congressional Budget Office, which says raising the wage would cost at least a half-million jobs.

"This is meant to be an entry level job where people get in that don't have skills. And you're not going to be able to hire people that don't have skills if you make the bar too high to get them into the work force," said Macfarlane.

But Yarmuth points to cities and states that have already raised the wage.

"In virtually every one of those jurisdictions, the economies are stronger than in states that have the federal minimum wage. So, there's plenty of evidence out there that those arguments are false," said Yarmuth.

There is an effort by Democrats on the Metro Council to raise the wage in Louisville. They are waiting for an opinion by Kentucky Attorney General Jack Conway as to whether such a move would be legal.

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