ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP)- The Maryland General Assembly gave final approval Wednesday to raising the state’s minimum wage from $10.10 to $15 an hour by 2025.
Democrats who control the legislature agreed to compromise legislation and voted to send the measure to Gov. Larry Hogan. The Republican governor strongly criticized the measure Monday, saying it would “cost us jobs, make us incapable of competing with other states in the region and which would devastate our state’s economy,” but the House and Senate passed the bill with enough votes to override a veto.
The minimum wage would increase to $11 in January. It would then go up 75 cents a year to $14 in 2024, and then reach $15 the following year.
“This bill is not perfect,” said Sen. James Rosapepe, a Democrat, adding that the measure doesn’t raise incomes as much, as quickly or for as many people as he would like. “But the House and the Senate, working together, have come up with a big step in the right direction – that looks out for small businesses, that moves as fast as we can with the fact that we have to get the votes that we needed.”
The bill gives companies with less than 15 employees more time to phase in the increase. After reaching $11 next year, the minimum wage would go up 60 cents a year for small businesses, rising to $14.50 in 2024 before reaching $15 in July 2026.
Opponents said the measure will reduce jobs, especially for young people, who need a first job to help build a resume.
“The unemployment rate will go up. Businesses and mom and pop shops will leave our state,” said Sen. Johnny Ray Salling, a Republican.
Progressive Maryland, a liberal political group, cheered the measure’s passage but noted that the bill didn’t go as far as group members wanted.
“Thousands of young workers, tipped workers, and agricultural workers will not share in the economic benefits of the higher wage,” said Larry Stafford, the group’s executive director. “Tipped workers’ wages remain frozen at $3.63 per hour, workers under the age of 18 will earn a so-called training wage, and agricultural workers will continue to be left out of the minimum wage rate altogether.”