Indiana unlikely to boost minimum wage despite widespread support

2013-11-12T18:15:00Z 2013-11-12T23:35:13Z Indiana unlikely to boost minimum wage despite widespread supportDan Carden dan.carden@nwi.com, (317) 637-9078 nwitimes.com
November 12, 2013 6:15 pm  • 

INDIANAPOLIS | A new poll shows more than three-fourths of Americans support a $9 per hour minimum wage, but don't look for the Republican-controlled General Assembly to boost Indiana's lowest legal pay rate next year above the current federal minimum of $7.25 per hour.

A Nov. 5-6 Gallup landline and cellular telephone survey of 1,040 U.S. adults found 76 percent of respondents, if given the opportunity, would vote for a law setting the federal minimum wage at $9 per hour. Just 22 percent said they'd vote against such a proposal, and 3 percent had no opinion.

The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percent.

House Democratic Leader Scott Pelath, D-Michigan City, said the poll "reveals what moderate and progressive leaders already know": Raising the minimum wage increases disposable income and grows the economy.

Earlier this year, House Democrats proposed changing Senate Bill 213 to set Indiana's minimum wage at $8.25 per hour, matching Illinois. The rate for tipped employees would have remained $2.13 per hour.

The plan was rejected on a party-line vote, with every House Republican voting no. A similar fate almost surely awaits a repeat attempt when the legislature convenes in January.

Republican representatives, including several who said they own businesses that pay the minimum wage, insisted a hike in employee wages would inevitably lead to layoffs as business owners properly protect their profits.

The underlying legislation, which was signed into law by Republican Gov. Mike Pence and took effect July 1, prohibits local governments from requiring businesses pay a higher minimum wage, or offer any working condition or benefit, such as paid sick leave, if it's not mandated by state or federal law.

Approximately 93,000 Hoosiers are paid at or below the minimum wage, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. At $7.25 per hour, a 40-hour workweek produces a paycheck of $290, before taxes.

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