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Montgomery County Councilmember Marc Elrich’s Statement on Unanimously Adopted Minimum Wage Increase Bill

For Immediate Release: Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Montgomery County Councilmember
Marc Elrich’s Statement on Unanimously
Adopted Minimum Wage Increase Bill

ROCKVILLE, Md., Nov. 7, 2017—Today the Montgomery County Council unanimously passed Bill 28-17, Human Rights and Civil Liberties – County Minimum Wage – Amount – Annual Adjustment, which would raise the minimum wage in the County to $15 an hour.  Councilmember Elrich is the lead sponsor of Bill 28-17.

Councilmember Elrich’s full statement on today’s vote is below:

This is huge.  What we have done today is express our commitment to raising the wage to $15 for all workers in this county.  People who work deserve to earn a decent wage. This bill will help them earn enough to put a roof over their heads, feed their families and not have to choose between food on the table and medical visits. It also includes indexing for inflation, which is essential to ensuring that wages increase at the same rate as our cost of living.

I taught in a high-poverty school in Montgomery County for 17 years, and I saw up close the effects of poverty. I watched poor children come to school hungry and unable to focus on learning. Poor children live in homes where their parents are highly stressed about how they will be able to continue to afford rent and other basic necessities of life. That stress has an enormous impact on the children, and those impacts have lasting effects. Raising the minimum wage can help address these issues and is thus good for families and schools. It is also good for neighborhoods and the economy; when poor families have more money to spend, they will spend it at local businesses.

While our County is one of the wealthiest in the country, we have too many people living in poverty despite working long hours. More than one-third of our residents are renters, and many of them are using half of their income just to put a roof over their heads. We have a responsibility to ameliorate that situation, and this bill brings an enormous improvement for many.

I understand the concerns expressed by some that raising the wage will harm small businesses and certain other organizations. Numerous studies have looked into the effects of local minimum wage increases and found that they raise wages without negatively impacting employment; however, we listened and attempted to address concerns by providing slower phase-ins for mid-sized and small businesses, non-profits, and home and community based health care providers heavily dependent on Medicaid funding. The bill also allows a pause in the increases if local economic conditions warrant it. 

I want to thank my colleagues for working together to find a bill that we could support. I appreciate the unwavering support of my cosponsors, Councilmembers Tom Hucker, George Leventhal, Nancy Navarro, and Hans Riemer. And I’m grateful to Councilmembers Roger Berliner, Sidney Katz, and Craig Rice for expressing their concerns and working with me. This bill begins a year later than I would have preferred for large businesses, but we now have a clear path to $15 for all our workers. And because this bill includes indexing for inflation, we will not repeat the national mistake of letting the minimum wage lose value over time.

When President Franklin Roosevelt put forward the original minimum wage, it was explicitly intended to meet basic needs. Today, we are recoupling wages to the original purpose of the minimum wage.

# # # # Release ID: 17-349
Media Contact: Sonya Healy 2407777926, Delphine Harriston 2407777931