Oklahoma's U.S. House members voted Thursday against the Raise the Wage Act of 2019, which is supposed to gradually raise the federal minimum wage from $7.25 today to $15 by 2025. Minimum wage has not been raised since July 2009, when it rose to $7.25 an hour. It's still $7.25 an hour, 10 years later.
While we favor some gradual increases in minimum wage, for the business community a leap to $15 an hour could be devastating. Many businesses, both big and small, would be facing much higher costs, forcing expense reductions in other areas, including layoffs, and passing along higher cosets to consumers. It could cripple or even shutter some businesses. Online businesses would benefit, because it wouldn't affect their overhead the same way it would affect businesses on Main Street America.
"The bill before the House (Thursday) used a sledgehammer, not a scalpel," said Kendra Horn, D- Oklahoma City. "By taking a one-size-fits-all approach, this legislation ignores the differences in regions, the cost of living and the cost of doing business. It doesn’t consider that Shawnee is different from San Francisco and Oklahoma City is different from New York City. That’s why I had to vote no. I believe a different piece of legislation — the PHASE Act, which I have cosponsored and that raises the minimum wage incrementally and regionally — addresses this issue in a more reasonable way.
“We need to have everyone at the table in this conversation — businesses of all sizes, workers, families and community leaders. This is a tough issue to balance, and we need everyone to have a voice in it.”
Horn agreed the minimum wage should be raised.
"But we have to be smart about how we tackle such an important issue," she said.
We agree. The issue needs careful planning to maintain a balance everyone can live with.