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State Senate panel considers raising minimum wage

Minimum wage increase

POCATELLO, Idaho - By 8 a.m. Monday, dozens of senators filed into the Lincoln Auditorium of the Senate West Wing in Boise to attend the Senate State Affairs Committee meeting, where they have been discussing the issue over raising the minimum wage.

So far, the proposed legislation has only been put to print, and not yet put to a vote. The proposed bill will raise the minimum wage from $7.25 per hour to $9.25 per hour by July 2015, and will adjust itself for future CPI levels.

Regional economist from the Idaho Dept. of Labor Dan Cravens said there are pros and cons to the bill if it were to pass.

"We always want to see people in the state make more money and earn higher wages, but the current concern is: will there be less jobs? Will this cause prices to increase?" Cravens said.

He noted some of the positive aspects of raising the minimum wage would be workers being paid more so they can put more money back into the system. However, he also said employers might have less incentive to hire and prices of good could go up.

Local union representatives said the battle for higher pay is one they've been fighting for awhile.

"It takes one person on minimum wage to work two, full-time jobs just to get by and that's obviously something we don't want to see in Idaho," SE Idaho Building and Construction Trades training coordinator Travis Woolsey said. "Being a right to work state, it's been very tough to pass some of these bills to get the minimum wage up and to get anybody's wages up in the state of Idaho. It's an uphill battle all the time."

He also noted Idaho has more people working at minimum wage than any other state, while being paid the lowest wages across the board.

Here is a copy of the bill as it stands: 

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