Washington was the first state to institute annual cost of living adjustments to its minimum wage in 1998, and for the past decade has had the highest state minimum wage in the country. Still, in 2013 nearly 50,000 people in Washington worked full-time, year-round and still lived in poverty.
Building on our 2015 Legislative Agenda, EOI has set out the following policy goal for 2015:
Raise Washington’s minimum wage to $12 in 4 years. If minimum wage had kept pace with inflation since 1968, it would be close to $11 in 2014, rather than $9.32. If low-wage workers had benefited from productivity growth, rather than most of the benefit going to the super wealthy, minimum wage would be over $18. We know from experience that raising the minimum wage increases incomes for low-wage workers, while supporting job and business growth.
Progress: House Bill 1355 (Increasing the minimum hourly wage to twelve dollars over four years, sponsored by Rep. Jessyn Ferrell) was heard by and passed from the House Committee on Labor in January. It was then heard and passed out of the Appropriations Committee in mid-February. We expect it will be considered by the full House of Representatives in early March, then sent to the Senate. The companion bill sponsored by Sen Jayapal was never heard in the Senate Commerce and Labor committee, but committee chair Sen. Baumgartner has said he will hear bills sent over from the House.