Gov. Edwards testifies in support of legislation to increase the minimum wage

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BATON ROUGE – Today in a meeting of the Senate Committee on Labor and Industrial Relations, Governor John Bel Edwards testified in support of a bill that would increase the minimum wage in Louisiana to $8.50 over the next two years. Senator Karen Carter Peterson (D-New Orleans) authored legislation which gradually increases Louisiana’s current $7.25 minimum wage to $8.00 on January 1, 2017 and to $8.50 on January 1, 2018.

“We have a real chance to make a real difference in the lives of families and children all across Louisiana by raising the minimum wage,” said Governor John Bel Edwards. “When our families do better, our state does better. Helping folks who are working hard every day, but can barely make ends meet at the end of the month because their pay is so low, is something that we can absolutely change.”

Louisiana is one of five states that does not have its own minimum wage and currently uses the federal wage of $7.25 an hour.

“By today’s standards, $7.25 is simply insufficient for working families,” said Edwards. “Families are the foundation of our communities. Investing in the success of Louisiana families means we’re investing in our success as a state. A modest, but meaningful increase to our minimum wage would do just that.”

During his campaign for governor, Gov. Edwards voiced support for increasing the minimum wage. The governor has included this legislation, as well as legislation in the House of Representatives by Rep. Joseph Bouie, in his agenda for the 2016 regular legislative session.

“Louisiana has a poverty rate of nearly 20 percent,” said Rep. Joseph Bouie. “Raising the minimum wage will not only help reduce poverty, but it will help protect some workers from exploitative employment practices.”

“We believe hardworking women and men in Louisiana deserve a chance to lift themselves out of poverty,” said Senator Peterson, the bill’s author. “If you work a 40-hour week, you shouldn’t be living below the poverty line. Our Louisiana family values say that work means something, that if you work hard you deserve dignity and you deserve opportunity.”

“We have needed this change for so long. The governor’s genuine care and concern for working families in Louisiana gives me great hope for the future,” said Co-Chair of the Legislative Agenda for Women, Julie Schwam Harris.

“As a small business owner, I’m proud to support this legislation to give Louisianians a well-deserved raise,” said Richard Sacher, owner of American Aquatic Gardens. “A raise in the minimum wage would only bolster our economy.”

SB 269 passed out of committee by a vote of 4-3. The bill heads next to the Senate floor for debate.

The governor’s testimony was streamed live on his Facebook page. To view his testimony, click here.

Minimum wage quick facts:

  • Louisiana is one of only five states that have not adopted a state minimum wage.
  • 29 states have minimum wages higher than the federal minimum.
  • $7.25 per hour is simply not enough when 40 percent of all our working families do not earn enough to cover basic monthly expenses.
  • In our state’s three largest cities – New Orleans, Baton Rouge, and Shreveport – more than 44 percent of households are unable to afford the five basic necessities of housing, child care, food, transportation, and health care.
  • 32% of employees in all industries earned $10.00/hour or less in quarter 4 of 2015.
  • Women make up over 80% of minimum wage earners.

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