Seventh State is pleased to present Marc Elrich’s response to our question on the minimum wage.
Do you favor an increase in the Montgomery County minimum wage and, if so, by how much and on what timeline? Would you have any exemptions and, if so, for whom?
Yes, I support making the Montgomery County minimum wage into a living wage of $15 an hour. I led the fight to secure the county’s last minimum wage increase, which is why our minimum wage is now $11.50 an hour, and believe strongly that jobs should pay people enough to provide for their families.
An extensive body of evidence shows that minimum wage increases have had their intended effect of lifting wages for low-wage workers with little to no effect on employment. Montgomery County is one of the wealthiest counties in the United States and has a very high cost of living, so we are even more well-positioned than many other jurisdictions to take the step of going to $15.
The most prudent course of action would be to raise the minimum wage to $15 per hour by 2020 for all workers in the county with no exemptions, indexing the minimum wage to rise with inflation or average wages after 2020. Over 100,000 Montgomery County residents would benefit from such an increase.
Opponents of this idea today made the same arguments and dire predictions four years ago. They were wrong then and they’re wrong now.
The $15 minimum wage bill I recently reintroduced, like the one that took effect in 2013, contains several compromises to assuage the concerns of some of my colleagues and some small businesses. It delays the phase-in to 2022 for businesses with 25 or fewer employees, for example, and it continues to allow the exemptions for some workers that exist under federal law. These compromises will result in less help for people in need than my ideal proposal would achieve, but the bill we ultimately enshrine into law will still have a huge, positive impact.