Democrats push for $15 an hour minimum wage

DOVER — Democratic legislators are proposing to increase Delaware’s minimum wage to $15 an hour.

A bill filed Friday would raise the minimum wage to $11 on Jan. 1, 2020, followed by a $1 raise at the start of each year until it hits $15 in 2024.

The current minimum wage of $8.75 increases to $9.25 per hour on Oct. 1.

The proposal comes after Democrats who control both chambers of the General Assembly rammed through a minimum wage increase in the middle of the night on the final day of last year’s session.

Republicans then withheld support for a key budget bill until Democrats agreed to delay implementation of the increase and to allow employers to pay minors and adult probationary workers a training wage 50 cents less than the minimum wage.

Legislation introduced by Democrats in January would repeal both the training and the youth wages, although it has not yet seen action.
Before the most recent hike, Delaware last raised the minimum wage in 2015, the result of a bill approved in 2014.

The chances of legislators passing a $15 minimum wage this month, the final before the General Assembly breaks until January, are basically nonexistent.

Supporters may have more luck next year, although the odds figure to still be against it.

Sixteen states currently have a minimum wage higher than $9.25, while four more have approved phased-in increases that will see their wage floors surpass Delaware’s.
Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Massachusetts, Illinois, California and Washington D.C. are transitioning to a $15 minimum wage over the next few years.

The federal minimum wage has been $7.25 since 2009.

The bill filed last week is sponsored by freshman Sen. Darius Brown.

“Our job in the General Assembly is to enact laws that improve the lives of our constituents,” the Wilmington Democrat said in a statement. “The best way we can do that is by making sure our economy is providing good jobs that pay a fair and livable wage. No one who works full time should struggle to buy groceries, pay their bills and put a roof over their head.”

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