Which probably tells you what business thinks of the idea. At the annual legislative summit of the Association of Washington Business in Olympia Thursday, there was no point in running an applause-meter, because there wasn’t any.
“If you guys will allow me –,” he began. “I know AWB is a respectful organization, so let me give you my position on this.”
The scene probably was a better temperature-taking than any poll of business owners. It was as if the thermostat in the ballroom of the Red Lion Hotel had suddenly been dialed down 20 degrees. In a state that already has the highest minimum wage in the country, $9.32 an hour, the governor said a business case could be made for a dramatic increase. The crowded room of businessmen and women – the ones who would be signing the paychecks — was having none of it. During sessions that took place earlier in the day, as lawmakers described progressive-themed proposals in the House for new mandates on business, for wages, paid sick leave and paid vacation leave, applause came mainly when Republican critics said business owners are right to be very, very worried.
Would Boost Wages
Responding to calls from labor organizations and progressive interest groups, the governor and House Democrats are pushing proposals that would dramatically increase the state minimum wage. A bill that would boost the wage to $12 an hour is on its way to the House floor, though it is unclear whether there are enough votes within the House Democratic caucus for the measure to win passage in that chamber. The governor is just a little shy of that mark, urging an increase of from $1.50 to $2.50 an hour.
At the statehouse, the proposals are being pushed as an effort to reduce poverty, albeit one that business and perhaps consumers might pay for. In his remarks to AWB, the governor offered a nod to the theme that is energizing progressive ranks these days – a crusade to reduce “income inequality.” But then he laid out a more business-oriented pitch. He said that if business is required to pay more, then customers would have more money to spend.