CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The House of Delegates gave overwhelming approval Wednesday afternoon to a bill that would increase the minimum wage.
House members approved the bill on an 89-5 vote. It would increase the current minimum wage of $7.25 an hour to $8.00 an hour beginning Jan. 1, 2015. The wage would then increase to $8.75 on Jan. 1, 2016.
Those speaking in favor of the bill said it would help 100,000 state residents. House Majority Whip Mike Caputo, D-Marion, said unfortunately more and more people are paid minimum wage.
“Back in my day the minimum wage was your summer job when you were in high school, when you were in college, to get you prepared for the workforce, that’s not true anymore,” Caputo said.
Del. Stephen Skinner, D-Jefferson, said it is past time to help the lower paid considering what lawmakers have done in recent years.
“We’ve cut taxes in West Virginia by over 300 million dollars and we’re waiting and we’re waiting and we’re waiting on the trickle down, well, it’s time for people on the bottom to get a little trickle up,” Skinner said.
His fellow Jefferson County delegate Tiffany Lawrence predicted a boost to the economy with the increase.
“Consensus tells us a raise in the minimum wage will provide an economic boom, let me say that again, an economic boom to this state,” she said.
Del. Jason Barrett, D-Berkeley, said the current minimum wage equates to $290 gross pay a week, which is $15,080 a year. The bill changes that to $350 a week, $18,200 a year.
“That will allow a single parent with one child to be above the poverty line. I think that’s the least we can do,” Barrett said.
The bill now heads to the state Senate for consideration.