A renewed call by Democrats for an increase to Indiana’s minimum wage isn’t winning over Republicans who control the Statehouse, with the governor saying his goal is to prepare workers for advancing beyond low-paying jobs.
The Democratic-backed proposal would unlink Indiana from the current federal minimum wage that’s remained at $7.25 an hour since 2009. The plan would boost Indiana’s minimum wage to $10 an hour beginning in 2022 then by an additional $1 an hour each year until it reaches $15 in 2027.
Indiana’s Republican-dominated Legislature has refused over the last several years to take up Democratic-sponsored bills to raise the minimum wage.
Republican Gov. Eric Holcomb said he wants more money directed toward state-funded job training to help people advance into better-paying careers.
“What I don’t want people to be caught up in is tethered to some appeal to a minimum expectation of anything in their life,” Holcomb said. “Especially while we have resources here to help folks with the opportunities that are out there now.”
Democratic Sen. Eddie Melton of Gary argues the costs for housing, transportation, child care, food and other necessities have gone up 20% or more since the last minimum wage increase.
“During this pandemic, our working Hoosiers kept our groceries stores open, delivered our food and our packages during the quarantine, cleaned our stores and even our offices just to keep us safe,” Melton said. “We can’t just simply show our gratitude by saying ‘thank you.’ We also should show it by fighting for them to increase their wages to a livable wage.”
Indiana and Kentucky have their minimum hourly wages tied to the federal law, while the Ohio minimum is set at $8.80, Michigan at $9.65 and Illinois statewide minimum is $11, according to the federal Department of Labor.
Melton said that legislators should at least repeal the 2011 law prohibiting Indiana’s counties and cities from setting a local minimum wage that’s higher than the federal rate.
“This is an unnecessary and harmful statute that tramples on the rights of small government and does nothing to move our state forward,” Melton said.