INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (Jan. 5, 2015) – The 2015 general assembly session starts Tuesday. But Monday, the fight was already underway to push for new legislation to raise the minimum wage in Indiana.
“We still have a minority out there and although we may be few in number, somebody has to speak for them,” said State Senator Karen Tallian.
Tallian authored Senate Bill 41 (SB41). If passed, it would boost Indiana’s minimum wage from $7.25 to $10.10 an hour.
“The sad thing is that in Indiana right now, we have people who work 40 hours a week jobs making minimum wage, and they’re still below the poverty level,” she said.
It’s a tough sell though in a state dominated by republicans. The party holds super majorities in both the house and senate. Tallian acknowledged passing SB41 will be far from easy, “It shouldn’t be a partisan issue. It really should not be,” she said.
“If you’re simply going to tell people that the only options available are to go to work for $7.25 and by the way, you’re going to have the exact same problems that you had before, that’s not making anybody’s lives better,” said House Minority Leader, Scott Pelath.
Pelath has thrown his support behind a wage increase. He announced Monday specific intentions for what a livable wage should mean for Hoosiers.
“Affordable, that is realistic, and helps people get their lives back on track,” he said.
Republicans worry though that hiking the minimum wage nearly $3 would be a job killer; putting unnecessary financial pressure on small businesses, unable to afford paying workers $10.10 an hour.
Inflation is another concern. Republicans claim a direct correlation between inflation and increasing the minimum wage.
But nation-wide, upping the minimum wage has become a popular position. Even in more conservative states. Nebraska, Arkansas, and Florida are among 29 states all with wages higher than the federal level of $7.25.
But Tallian, with worry ahead of the start of session, “There are republican legislators who would support this. Unfortunately it has to get out of committee and if it can’t get a hearing…” and if it can’t get a hearing this bill is dead in the water.
The 2015 legislative session starts Tuesday. Republican lawmakers said they will comment then, on where they stand with the issue.