LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- A Kentucky Senator pre-filed a bill on Monday to gradually raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour over the next seven years.

The bill, pre-filed by Senator Reginald Thomas, a Democrat from Lexington, would set the wage at $15 an hour in 2025, according to a news release from the Legislative Research Commission.

The fact that the bill is pre-filed means that it could be considered during the 2018 Regular Session, which would convene Jan. 2, 2018.

"This issue, in my opinion, should be a top economic priority of the General Assembly," said Sen. Thomas. "This one piece of legislation could do a great deal to help Kentucky families. That in itself is a huge reason to raise the minimum wage, but there are innumerable additional resources for an increase. An increase would raise the economic activity in the commonwealth and spur job growth in our communities. It would help to reduce class inequality. It would allow more people to afford housing in everyday essentials. It would reduce the number of families dependent on government assistance and would lead to healthier Kentuckians."

According to the news release, the bill would gradually increase the minimum wage, per year, to the following levels:

  • Current wage: $7.25
  • July 1, 2018: $8.20
  • July 1, 2019: $9.15
  • July 1, 2020: $10.10
  • July 1, 2021: $11.00
  • July 1, 2022: $12.05
  • July 1, 2023: $13.10
  • July 1, 2024: $13.95
  • July 1, 2025: $15.00

"Further, the bill would increase the minimum hourly wage for tipped workers," the news release states. "If it passes, employers would be required to pay tipped staff $2.13 an hour, beginning on the effective date of this bill. As of July 2019, the employer would be required to pay not less than $3.05 an hour, then not less than $3.95 in 2020 and not less than $4.90 in July 2021."

The bill would exclude any small business -- including retail stores, service industries, hotels, motels and restaurant operations -- that earns less than $500,000 in annual gross sales for five years before the increase.

In the past, critics of minimum wage increases have argued that such increases have a negative impact on businesses and the economy, and can result in job cuts.

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