Island County elected leaders say they support President Barack Obama’s State of the Union intent to raise the minimum wage and increase job training.
“As the economy has recovered, too many Americans have been left behind,” said Larsen in a prepared statement this week. “The president laid out a compelling case for why we need to open up economic opportunities for more people.”
“Let’s start by raising the minimum wage. Congress should raise the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour and tie future wage increases to inflation.”
“It’s time for a change.”
Obama stated in his address his intention to raise the minimum wage for federal contractors via executive order, a move Larsen says is a “welcome start which will hopefully encourage private companies to follow suit.”
Democratic Sen. Patty Murray said she “strongly” the minimum wage increase.
“I expect Congress to act in the near future to give millions more workers a raise and I am hopeful that Republicans decide to work with us instead of playing politics,” Murray said.
Obama told Congress that “women make up about half our workforce, but they still make 77 cents for every dollar a man earns. That is wrong, and in 2014, it’s an embarrassment. Women deserve equal pay for equal work.”
Murray said she called out conservatives on gender wage inequality, asking “Are Republicans really going to block giving 15 million American women a raise?”
“Because telling American women that they don’t deserve a living wage isn’t about ‘tone’ or how they talk about women’s issues — it’s about what they do — it’s about policy.
Murray said that she was “particularly glad that the president focused so much attention on education, the heart of true opportunity for this generation and the next.”
“I challenge anyone to explain to me why this should be a partisan issue.”
Sen. Maria Cantwell said she was encouraged by the President’s emphasis on investing in the country’s workforce and increasing wages to help boost the economy.
“We also can’t afford to let our workers fall behind in the innovation economy, which is why I was pleased to hear the President focus on addressing the skills gap in our workforce,” Cantwell said. “Washington state – with its aerospace, technology, and manufacturing industries – knows the importance of ensuring our schools and training programs produce skilled workers that meet employers’ needs.”
The federal minimum wage is currently $7.25 per hour; Washington State minimum wage is $9.23.