A measure to raise the minimum wage in Maryland continues to move forward.
The Senate Budget and Taxation Committee passed the bill on a 9-3 vote Thursday, sending it to the Senate floor.
The measure phases in increases from $7.25 to $8.00 in January, $8.25 in July of 2015, $8.75 in July of 2016 and $9.25 in July of 2017. It would rise to $10.10 in July of 2018.
The bill freezes the minimum wage for tipped workers at $3.63.
It includes a four-year 3.5 percent mandated increase for community service providers who work with the developmentally disabled to keep their pay above minimum wage.
An employer may pay an employee who is 19 or younger 85 percent of the minimum wage for her first six months.
Ruben Jones Jr., who makes $8 per hour as a cook in Largo, says he lives with his 82-year-old mother because he can’t afford his own place.
“My daughter lives in Ocean City,” Jones said at a Capitol Hill rally for raising the minimum wage. “I can’t visit them at all. I don't have the money to do it.”
Opponents warn raising the minimum wage will reduce the number of jobs and economic opportunities.
“If you raise costs on businesses, and they can’t offset it through higher prices, they have to find a way to provide the same product at a lower cost, and that means fewer jobs,” said Michael Saltsman of Employment Policies Institute.