The Time for $15 is Now

Governor Larry Hogan finds himself with high approval ratings in various pockets around the state of Maryland. However, when you look at some of the districts that Hogan has the highest support you find a constituency that undeniably supports raising the minimum wage to $15 per hour by 2023. A recent poll in Maryland State Senate Districts 8, 28, and 38 show growing support for increasing the minimum wage.

The majority support for raising the minimum wage is clear across several interesting demographics. In the several districts that were polled, the political tendencies in the districts differed slightly but the one constant was the support they all showed for Hogan. Hogan’s performance has received a two-thirds approval in the districts surveyed yet even in this climate of support for Hogan the support of a minimum wage increase was even greater. Between likely voters and Democrats in these districts, the support is clear for raising the minimum wage. The most interesting aspect of the poll shows the clear support from independents voters, a quickly growing constituency in Maryland, for the push to finally move on raising the minimum wage.

A recent Goucher College poll only supports the increasing call for action on raising the minimum wage. The poll found that 60 percent of Marylanders support raising the minimum wage at the state level, while 63 percent believe cities like Baltimore should be able to set their own minimum wage. Low wages are making it next to impossible for hardworking Marylanders to pay for essential living needs. Contrary to popular belief, minimum wage workers are not mostly teenagers trying to earn extra cash. Many of those earning minimum wage around the state are using that wage to take care of families and provide a stable upbringing for their children. A growing consensus amongst economists has also concluded that raising the minimum wage would have little to no effect on employment numbers. As wages for some have increased astronomically over the last several decades, the minimum wage has remained stagnate and not kept up with inflation. We can do better, and we must do better.

The push and fight for $15 has gained significant momentum around the state from all corners. From Mayor Catherine Pugh in Baltimore City to State Senator Rich Madaleno in Montgomery County – Democratic legislators and leaders around the state are not backing down on pushing for change and an actual living wage. “No one working full time should live in poverty”, said Madaleno. Baltimore City Councilwoman Mary Pat Clark, a staunch advocate for raising the minimum wage, said raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2022 would bring “economic equity” in Baltimore City. “It is time to share the wealth,” Clarke said.

The consensus around the minimum wage increase would give customers and employees alike more money to spend at local businesses that will benefit the local economies of jurisdictions around the state. Improving economic outcomes of residents around the state that provide the economic fuel our economy needs to propel us into the decades to come is critical. As the wealthiest state in the country, I think it is high time for us to show bold leadership and truly lift families out of poverty – rewarding the hard work that so many are already doing on a day to day basis. California and New York state have already passed legislation phasing in a $15 minimum wage over time. It is time for Maryland to step up and do what is right. The fight to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour is a national movement and we can’t afford to be late to the party.