LANSING (WJRT) -
(05/21/14) - Michigan lawmakers have a tough choice on their hands - whether to give minimum wage workers a pay increase.
Wednesday, people on both sides of Michigan's proposed minimum wage hike exchanged emotional arguments.
The House Governmental Operations Committee heard from business people who, for the most part, oppose a hike in the minimum wage. Also before the microphone were those who say families will benefit from an increase. There was also one Mid-Michigan man who is anxious to get a minimum wage boost on the November ballot.
Last week, the state Senate passed a bill that would increase the minimum wage from $7.40 to $9.20 an hour by the year 2017. It includes a measure tying the state's minimum wage to inflation. Those who work for tips would get a base pay of $3.50 an hour. The bill that passed the Senate could thwart an ongoing ballot drive to gradually raise the wage to $10.10 an hour.
Committee members heard testimony that thousands of people are having trouble paying the bills because of low wages.
"This is a way to stimulate our economy and help to give these families the means to make ends meet," said Gilda Jacobs, of the Michigan League for Public Policy.
Tom Moran has been circulating a petition in Genesee, Livingston, Oakland and Washtenaw Counties that would put the minimum wage issue on the ballot. He was upset to hear that lawmakers may take steps to render his efforts null and void.
"They said they're letting us have a say her, but they're not at the polls. What they're proposing is preventing voters from having a say on the issue. They're talking about numbers, what the minimum wage should be, what the tip wage should be, but they're totally ignoring the fact that they're trying to subvert democracy," he said.
It will be up to Republican Pete Lund, the chairman of the committee, to decide if more hearings are needed before moving the bill forward.