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Zack Hutchins
Director of Communications

July 21, 2004

State legislators approve bill to increase state's minimum wage

State legislators have agreed to increase the state's minimum wage in steps to $7.15 by January 2007. The state's minimum was would increase to $6 per hour next January, to $6.75 per hour in January 2006, and to $7.15 per hour a year later.

The Business Council and most employer groups statewide opposed the bill, arguing that it would actually hurt the lower-wage earners it supposedly seeks to help and that the minimum-wage issue should be debated and decided nationally in Washington, DC.

The nonpartisan Employment Policies Institute (EPI) in Washingotn, DC, immediately blasted the bill.

"The majority of the benefits from a minimum wage hike do not go to poor families, and . . . a majority of the working poor will receive no benefit from the proposed increase," the Employment Policies Institute (EPI) of Washington, D.C. said in a release criticizing the bill.

The EPI cited recent research by Richard Burkhauser of Cornell University which showed that:

"The especially poor targeting of this social program makes it a highly inefficient and ineffective means of combating poverty," EPI said.

"The failure to reach these poor families makes the minimum wage a failed anti-poverty policy," said Craig Garthwaite, research director for EPI. He also called the agreement "a classic example of politics trumping good policy."