FRANKFORT, Ky. (KT) – A Kentucky lawmaker is proposing a measure to gradually raise Kentucky’s minimum wage to $15 per hour over a seven-year period.
The legislation, sponsored by Sen. Reginald Thomas, D-Lexington, would increase the minimum wage incrementally from its current $7.25 an hour to $8.20 beginning July 1, 2018, then to $9.15 in July 2019, $10.10 in 2020, $11 in 2021, $12.05 in 2022, $13.10 in 2023, $13.95 in 2024, and finally to $15 an hour in 2025.
In addition, the bill would increase the minimum hourly wage for tipped workers. If passed, employers would be required to pay tipped staff $2.13 an hour, beginning on the effective date of this bill. In July 2019, the employer would be required to pay not less than $3.05 an hour, then not less than $3.95 in 2020 and not less than $4.90 in July 2021.
Excluded from this wage increase would be small businesses, including retail stores, service industries, hotels, motels, and restaurant operations, that earn less than $500,000 in annual gross sales for five years before the increase.
Thomas believes it should be a top economic priority of the General Assembly.
“An increase would raise the economic activity in the commonwealth and spur job growth in our communities,” he said. “It would help to reduce class inequality. It would allow more people to afford housing and everyday essentials. It would reduce the number of families dependent on government assistance and would lead to healthier Kentuckians.”
Previous attempts to raise the minimum wage have failed, both at the state and local levels.
Thomas introduced a similar measure last year, but it was never heard in committee. In earlier years, the House passed legislation raising the minimum wage when Democrats were in control, but they never cleared the Republican-led Senate.
Louisville Metro Council passed an ordinance in 2014, gradually raising the minimum wage to $9 per hour, but was struck down 6-1 by the Kentucky Supreme Court, which ruled the city doesn’t have the authority to set a minimum wage higher than the state level.
Despite that, Thomas remains undeterred. “I hope we get the opportunity to vet this issue in committee and again on the Senate floor in the upcoming session,” he said. “This bill is important to Kentucky families.”
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