State House members put forward a new minimum wage plan Thursday that would allow most employers in the state to take a longer time to increase wages.
In the new proposal presented to a conference committee of Senate and House members, employers with fewer than 100 employees — most employers in the state — would not have to pay $10 an hour until 2019, phasing in the increase over five years.
"It’s a step backward," said Democratic Sen. Clayton Hee, chairman of the Senate contingent of the conference committee.
The Senate had wanted to increase the minimum wage to $10.10 per hour in three years, but the House had proposed raising it to $10 an hour over four years. Lawmakers from both chambers are now hashing out the differences in a conference committee. The latest proposal was drafted by the House members on that committee.
Representatives on the House side did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Hee said 10 cents per hour can make a difference for a single mom. It adds up to the price of a gallon of milk if she works eight hours a day for two weeks.
"That’s why 10 cents is important," Hee said. "If it’s unimportant to others, then we should provide for that 10 cents."
The minimum wage has been $7.25 per hour since 2007.
Business groups said the proposal would harm the economy and slow job creation.
Under the new proposal, the tip credit, which would allow employers to pay tipped workers 25 cents to 75 cents less than the minimum wage, remained essentially the same as the last draft of the bill. But senators did not want to include a tip credit, which would kick in if an employee’s hourly wages and tips generated $7 more than the minimum wage at the time.
Senate members plan to make a counterproposal when the committee meets again Monday, Hee said.