Ohio talks minimum wage raise after feds leave it tabled

By: - March 15, 2021 12:40 am

Workers strike for a $15 minimum wage. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

Democratic legislators are leading the charge to raise the minimum wage in the state after a federal effort failed.

State. Sen. Hearcel Craig and Sen. Cecil Thomas presented the bill in Senate Workforce and Higher Education recently, proposing increasing wages to $15 an hour by 2025.

“Raising the minimum wage to $15 by 2025 would give 2 million Ohioans a raise that is long overdue while allowing people to lift themselves out of poverty,” Craig said.

Ohio’s minimum wage stands at $8.80 per hour, and $4.40 per hour for tipped workers.

The new bill would raise the minimum to $12 on Jan. 1, 2022, and have an annual $1 increase until 2025. Tipped workers would move up to $7.50 hourly by 2025.

U.S. legislators took up the same issue in debates over the $1.9 billion stimulus bill that recently passed. While other funding elements passed, like $1,400 checks for many Americans, the minimum wage issue was dropped.

The minimum wage issue continues on the federal side, though it’s unclear whether it will succeed. U.S. Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, was among five federal legislators introducing a minimum wage raise of $10 per hour, which also included a mandate that electronic verification be used “to ensure the wage increase only goes to legal workers,” according to a press release from Portman’s office.

Ohio Democratic U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown supports a $15 an hour minimum wage, and said so as the Senate debated the stimulus bill.

“We will find a way to increase wages,” Brown said. “I don’t think voters care about all the inner machinations going on in Congress. I don’t think they care how we do it.”

A study by the Economic Policy Institute showed that having $15 per hour minimum wage by 2025 would impact poverty in terms of tax credits and federal assistance programs. The study estimated a drop in public assistance programs between $13.4 and $31 billion.

“These large wage increases would disproportionately raise the incomes of families at the bottom of the income distribution and would meaningfully reduce the number of families in poverty,” the EPI study stated.

Money spent on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) would drop by $5.2 billion and $10.3 per year, according to the EPI study.

The Ohio bill currently only has Democratic cosponsors signed on, and with a Republican supermajority in Ohio legislature, they will need to garner bipartisan support for the bill to become law.

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Susan Tebben
Susan Tebben

Susan Tebben is an award-winning journalist with a decade of experience covering Ohio news, including courts and crime, Appalachian social issues, government, education, diversity and culture. She has worked for The Newark Advocate, The Glasgow Daily Times, The Athens Messenger, and WOUB Public Media. She has also had work featured on National Public Radio.

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