OKLAHOMA CITY – Although Oklahoma’s legislative session won’t begin for another month, a proposed bill aims to raise the state’s minimum wage.
Oklahoma Sen. George Young has filed legislation to raise the state’s minimum wage from $7.25-an-hour to $10.50-an-hour, beginning in 2020.
Young says many Oklahomans struggle to make ends meet because they often work multiple minimum-wage jobs, yet still find themselves reliant on government assistance.
Supporters of the bill stress that it would bolster the state’s economy while helping the working class.
“Minimum wage workers — for every extra dollar or 50 cents an hour — they will be spending it,” Jimmy Curry, president of the labor union Oklahoma AFL-CIO, told the Enid News & Eagle. “They will not be saving it. They will be putting it back directly into the economy.”
However, not everyone is on board with the plan.
Critics stress that Young’s bill would have a negative effect on businesses, and might even result in fewer jobs for lower-skilled and older workers.
“The last thing we want to do is make it more difficult for people to find work by government arbitrarily setting wages that have no correlation to what’s going on in the market,” said Jonathan Small, president of Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs.
The first day of the legislative session begins on Feb. 4.