Boy, Without that Weekly Hamilton, We’d Be Sunk!
According to a press release, RI House Speaker Tempore Charlene Lima is continuing her quest to save Rhode Island’s “working families” one quarter at a time:
House Speaker Tempore Charlene M. Lima today introduced legislation that will continue her mission to raise the minimum wage for Rhode Island’s working men and women.
The bill would raise the minimum wage to $7.75 as of January 1, 2008, and $8.00 as of January 1, 2009.
Last year, Representative Lima spearheaded an effort to increase the minimum wage in Rhode Island. Her legislation, which was enacted into law, raised the minimum wage from $6.75 to $7.10 as of March 1, 2006 and $7.40 as of January 1, 2007. Representative Lima said she hopes that this second minimum wage bill will continue to help the working men and women of our state.
The most important part of the legislation, said Representative Lima, will be the provision that, beginning on January 1, 2010 and occurring each January 1st thereafter, the minimum wage will be automatically adjusted by the Department of Labor and Training to maintain employee purchasing power by increasing the minimum wage rate by the rate of inflation.
“My legislation will help workers who are struggling to make ends meet in a difficult economy,” said Representative Lima. “The democratic philosophy has always been to help hard-working men and women, rather than cater to wealthy corporations and big business. Therefore, my question to opponents of an increase in the minimum wage is quite simple: Do you feel that the average working men and women in our state deserve a modest raise for their hard work?”
I actually have two questions for Rep. Lima:
- How do you keep a straight face while claiming that another $10 per week every year will help low-paid Rhode Islanders keep up with a market in which “rents… have increased nearly 47 percent and the average price of a home has increased almost 66 percent since 1998”?
- Do you really believe that Rhode Island’s “average” is at the minimum wage level?
These piecemeal minimum wage laws are little more than ineffective gestures on behalf of people who aren’t, as Lima suggested during last year’s debate (as I recall), “the backbone” of the Rhode Island economy. And a more dramatic wage law would be devastating to that economy. So, Charlene, why don’t we get past the easy posturing and figure out what is truly holding this state — and, disproportionately, its working families — down?