BEND, OR -- Oregon’s Bureau of Labor and Industries will soon begin the process of creating rules for rolling out the new minimum wage. Governor Kate Brown signed the three-tiered system into law at the end of the February session. But, State Senator Tim Knopp (R-Bend) expects the conversation will continue next year. "Democrats are already talking about mistakes that were made, it wasn’t perfect, they want to make changes in 2017; and that’s exact reason you don’t do major policy issues in a short session because they’ve really messed it up."
He tells KBND News the current law may not help those it’s designed to help. "About 40% of the minimum wage gets paid to workers between the age of 16 and 24, most of them are single – not all of them, but most of them. And, the mantra we heard from Democrats was ‘you shouldn’t be working 40 hours a week and essentially living in poverty.’ While I agree, the answer really wasn’t to raise the minimum wage for essentially teenagers and people in their 20s who aren’t a head of household."
Under the new system, the state is split into three zones with different rates applied to each, increasing annually over the next six years. "I’m not aware of any other state that has done that, nor any other state that has raised their minimum wage so high, so fast. And there are other liberal states out there that are probably more liberal, quite frankly, than Oregon, who haven’t done that," says Knopp. "And you have to ask yourself ‘why didn’t they do that?’ And, I think they had probably figured it out that it’s going to be detrimental, long term, to the economic growth in their state and therefore in Oregon as well."
In Central Oregon, Crook and Jefferson County's minimum wage will see smaller increases, going up to $9.50/hour in July, with 50-cent increases each year through 2022. Deschutes County will go from the current rate of $9.25 an hour, to $9.75 in July; rising to $13.50 by 2022.
To listen to our complete conversation with Sen. Tim Knopp, click HERE or visit our Podcast Page.