City Council to Vote on Resolution Backing State Bill to Raise Minimum Wage

The Baltimore City Council voted 11-3 in March 2017 to raise the city’s minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2022

Monday, February 5, 2018 — By Brandon Weigel

The Baltimore City Council voted 11-3 in March 2017 to raise the city’s minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2022, only to see Mayor Catherine Pugh veto the law–even though she supported such a measure during the campaign. The council did not attempt to override the veto.

Now, the City Council is poised tonight to throw its support behind two bills in Annapolis that would bring the statewide minimum wage to the $15-an-hour mark by 2023. It’s seemingly a slam dunk: The resolution, 18-0066R, has every council member–excepting Isaac “Yitzy” Schleifer (District 5) and Sharon Green Middleton (District 6)–and Council President Bernard C. “Jack” Young listed as a sponsor.

The state minimum wage is set to reach $10.10 an hour on July 1, 2018, but no further increases are scheduled beyond that.

In a press release, council members Mary Pat Clarke (District 14) and Kristerfer Burnett (District 8) touted the effects raising the wage would have on the city’s problems of poverty and violence.

“Baltimore City is going to have to take a more holistic approach to reducing crime,” wrote Burnett. “Raising the State minimum wage to $15 an hour is a step in the right direction, giving people an opportunity to support themselves, their families and to turn their lives around.”

Writes Clarke: “This State legislation’s schedule of annual increases to $15 in 2023, with annual [cost of living increases] from there, represents our best chance to lift the prospects of our thousands of working poor citizens and to protect all hourly Baltimore workers from being frozen at $10.10 for the future without cost of living increases.”

At a press conference this afternoon, Pugh, in announcing her support for the resolution, called back to her reasons for vetoing the City Council’s own bill: Namely, the city would lose jobs to surrounding counties if it raised the wage on its own.

“[I]t is important that all the jurisdictions that surround Baltimore City understand the need to do this,” she said.

She challenged the General Assembly to “recognize that corporate tax cuts are great for companies and corporations, but so are raising wages for our citizens.”

The Real News Network’s Jaisal Noor later asked the mayor why the logic behind her veto didn’t apply to the whole state. Wouldn’t jobs just leave for Pennsylvania or Virginia?

“We’re not really worried about people crossing the line,” she said, “we’re worried about what happens in our own state.”

“This is one of the richest states in America,” she continued, “and that’s real. And so we’re saying corporate tax cuts are giving corporations and companies wonderful breaks, and so we’re saying that the people in our state deserve to be compensated properly.”

The Maryland State Senate bill is scheduled for a hearing on Feb. 20 before the Finance Committee. The bill cross-filed in the Maryland House of Delegates is scheduled for an Economic Matters Committee hearing on Feb. 27.