SALEM, OR -- A bill to increase Oregon's minimum wage continues to advance in the State Legislature. The Senate altered Governor Kate Brown's original proposal, but she says she supports the changes. Her two-tier plan now has three tiers.
Gov. Brown says the benefits to Oregon's low-income families outweigh the impact this will have on small business. "I understand raising the minimum wage will have an impact on our small businesses. These costs are real. But, I think we need to weigh those against the long-term societal costs of a generation raised in poverty."
Republicans say it's going to put low-wage Oregonians out of work because small businesses will have to lay off workers to compensate for higher wages. But, Gov. Brown says this plan is better than other options. "It offers a balance between nothing, and two problematic ballot measures that expedite increases with absolutely no accommodation for regional economic differences."
During a hearing Monday night, supporters said making minimum wage means living in poverty. But, business owners testified it could force them to close. Although, they acknowledged low-wage earners' desire to make more money. One businesswoman told the committee, "I think it’s essential to remember that we as businesses have got to be profitable. And, we wan the same goals here."
The three-tier system would provide the largest increase in the Portland area, with the lowest rate in rural parts of the state. It would be phased in over six years, starting July first. A proposal to send the plan to voters was denied, and the bill was voted out of committee and on to the full House, Monday night.