CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The Senate Finance Committee Wednesday approved an increase in the state’s minimum wage of $1.50 over three years. The committee changed the House version of the bill, which implemented the raise over two years.

Under the new plan, the minimum wage would rise from the current $7.25 to $8.75 by January 2017.  The increases would be 25-cents the first year, 50-cents the second year and 75-cents the third year.

Finance Committee Chairman Roman Prezioso (D-Marion) said both business and labor agreed to the bill, but Senate Majority Leader John Unger (D-Berkeley) opposed the change. The disagreement produced some tense moments between the two leaders during the meeting.

Unger favored the House version which raised the entry level wage by 75-cents in each of the next two years.  Unger argued that would get money into the hands of people who need it more quickly.

Unger also implied that labor had not agreed to the change, pointing out that no labor leaders were at the committee meeting.  Prezioso countered that all all stakeholders had agreed to the three year plan.

One source said the two met after the meeting and sorted out their differences.  “John gets a little emotional,” the source said.

Jan Vineyard, president of the West Virginia Oil Marketers and Grocers Association, said spreading the increase over three years instead of two would lessen the jolt to businesses.

Acting state Labor Commissioner John Junkins said the minimum wage increase would help sustain low-wage workers.

“Seven dollars 25-cents-an-hour in today’s society isn’t very much of a wage for a sole supporter to support their family on, so anything that could be done to help people would be great.”

The bill now goes to the full Senate.


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  • Brian

    Good coverage Hop!

    To me, this is key from Junkins...

    "Seven dollars 25-cents-an-hour in today’s society isn’t very much of a wage for a sole supporter to support their family..."

    Who wants to be in that situation?

    Nobody responsible. MW isn't the issue, it's people having children before they're capable of providing.

  • Tyrone

    What is sad is that when these people get this raise they will loose welfare benefits such as food stamps. See this way Big Brother can keep the poor man down. Why not if you are going to raise the minimum wage then you don"t raise the amount you can make to still collect the food stamps this is not helping it will hurt more in the long run

  • Low Rider

    I am getting tired of the old worn out argument by Democrats that "we're getting more money into the hands of the people that need it"!

    Only 5% of minimum wage earners are the head of a household.

    What business does John Unger own? Oh that's right...he is a Pastor. His payroll is funded by his parishoners!

  • BAC

    Better this be done at the state level than at the national level, as Obama is proposing...but of course, everything he does is for political purposes.

  • Aaron

    In depth economic studies have proven that small increases do not have as drastic effect on business as many would have you believe.

    I've thought that the best way to address it is to tie it an annual increase to the consumer price index or inflation.

    In doing that, minimum wage maintains a balanced buying power year to year. The problem is, it gives politicians nothing to argue about.

  • JTF

    MD is raising their minimum wage, but in MD small businesses with less than $250,000 income are exempt from State MW laws in MD.

    OH, MT, and other states has similar provisions exempting businesses from State MW if their income is less than $300K or some definite income number.

    In WV's MW law, there seems to be nothing about business income. Only that businesses who have less than 6 employees are exempt from WV MW law. Plus the usual long list of exemptions (people who work for tips, etc.) that exists in every state.