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Legislative committee hears debate on raising Louisiana minimum wage

Published: Apr. 28, 2022 at 7:34 PM CDT
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Lake Charles, LA (KPLC) - Many say Louisiana’s minimum wage is not a living wage. It’s a complex and controversial topic.

Louisiana’s minimum wage of $7.25 an hour pays a worker $58 dollars for eight hours of work. That’s before any deductions from the check.

Some are passionate about increasing the wage, while others say it will cause more harm than good.

Four bills that might have increased it with final approval did not make it out of committee:

House lawmakers on the House Labor and Industrial relations committee had a long day as they listened to the pros and cons of raising Louisiana’s minimum wage of $7.25.

There were various proposals. One would just increase it for state workers. While another would let voters decide if we need a State Constitutional Amendment establishing a minimum wage.

Many who testified for an increase said so many people, especially single moms, struggle.

House lawmakers on the labor and industrial relations committee listened to the pros and cons of raising Louisiana’s minimum wage.

“We must invest in these workers earning less than a living wage. We must establish a Louisiana minimum wage for the survival of our citizens,” Natalie Pruitt with United Way said.

Rep. Malinda White discussed her bill that would have raised it at least for state employees:

“No one can survive on the current minimum wage of $7.25. By not doing this for public sector workers we’re saying that the people who work for the State of Louisiana don’t deserve to live a dignified life,” she said.

Those who oppose raising the minimum wage argue it will hurt businesses.

Megan Klock is operations manager for Ruffino’s Restaurant and associated businesses. She said an increase would be devastating for their industry.

“We are already working off very thin margins. Unfortunately, in the environment we’re in today, commodities, shortages left and right, increases on price of commodities change daily. Fuel charges are being added to invoices because of delivery charges,” Klock said.

Jim Patterson with Louisiana business and Industry said it wouldn’t help workers the way they think:

“Studies have indicated, one by Cornell most recently, where they looked at the twenty-eight states that had raised minimum wages, between 2003 and 2007. And they found there was no appreciable reduction in poverty by virtue of that,” Patterson said.

There is one more bill the committee was to take up by Representative Wilford Carter (D) of Lake Charles. His bill proposes to raise the minimum wage in increments over the next few years. The presentation of the bill has been postponed.

7 News will update when the bill is presented.

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