Democrats Push Minimum-Wage Hikes in At Least 30 States
Minimum-wage increase proposals are getting the maximum push from Democrats in statehouses in more than half of U.S. states, highlighting the politically potent income inequality issue this year.
Lawmakers in at least 30 states are sponsoring or are expected to introduce wage-hike measures, according to a national review by The Associated Press. They hope to notch state-level victories as President Obama and congressional Democrats remain stymied in attempts to raise the federal minimum wage above $7.25 an hour. The president is expected to mention the minimum wage in his State of the Union address Tuesday.
Even in Republican-dominated capitals where the bills are long shots, the measures still give Democrats a chance to hammer home the popular theme of fair wages in what is an election year in most places.
"It's a no-brainer for any Democrat," said Neil Sroka, a strategist for progressive groups who is communications director at the Howard Dean-founded Democracy for America. "Congress is failing. They can take real action right in the states and have a demonstrable impact right here at home. For politics and policy, it's a winning strategy."
Minimum wage is a perennial issue that has taken on a higher profile amid the slowly recovering economy and growing public debate about income inequality. A Quinnipiac University poll this month found 71 percent of Americans in favor of raising the minimum wage -- including more than half of Republicans polled.