City Council passes $15 minimum wage bill
BALTIMORE (WBFF) -- The Baltimore City Council gave final approval Monday to a bill which would increase the city's minimum wage to $15 per hour by 2022.
The council voted 11-3 in favor of the measure which exempts small businesses with less than 50 employees from offering the higher minimum wage until 2026.
City Councilwoman Shannon Sneed says she supports a $15 minimum wage to help tens of thousands of working families who are "working are working two and three jobs and they can hardly pay for their basic needs, and so I'm fighting for those families."
Kristerfer Burnett, who also supports the bill, told his colleagues that many families desperately need a higher living wage because "rent is going up every year, the cost of living is going up every year, but we have to fight tooth and nail to help people's paychecks."
But Councilman Eric Costello, who voted against the bill says the higher minimum wage will wind up costing the city tens of millions of dollars that it does not have. He cited the high cost of implemented the federal consent decree with the Baltimore Police Department and the $130 million deficit facing city schools.
Costello told his colleagues, "At what point are we constraining the city's budget to leave no discretion as to how to move the city forward and achieve the city's goals.”
After Monday night's vote, Don Fry, President of the Greater Baltimore Committee, said, "We are certainly concerned about the impact this has on businesses and certainly will result in increased costs and also puts Baltimore City as an island in our region, so from a competitive advantage situation puts us at a disadvantage because other counties will not have to live with this legislation."
Mayor Catherine Pugh has not said she will sign or veto the minimum wage bill, but supporters say if she does, they have the 12 votes necessary to override a veto. Twelve votes in the city council are required to override a mayoral veto. Although Monday's vote was 11-3 in favor of the measure, City Councilman Brandon Scott was absent. Supporters of the higher minimum wage say Scott has publicly voiced support for the bill, so his vote would effectively overturn a veto allowing the measure to become law.
Mayor Pugh has approximately 30 days to decide whether to sign then I'll, veto it or decline to take action which would allow the measure to automatically become law.