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Minimum wage increase clears one State Senate hurdle

Delaware Public Media

Legislation that would raise Delaware’s minimum wage to $15 an hour made it out of a Senate committee Wednesday.

State Sen. Darius Brown’s bill would phase in an increase of the minimum wage to 15 dollars an hour by 2024. Lawmakers raised it last year to $8.75 an hour, and it goes to $9.25 in October.

Leo Gertner with the National Employment Law Project points to decades of research showing minimum wage increases do not lead to job losses. And he says it also indicates a higher minimum wage helps the economy as a whole.

“We’ve also seen study after study show decreased poverty rates, lower rates of child abuse and neglect, better educational outcomes and graduation rates, less hunger and fewer chronic diseases," he said. "Resulting in fewer deaths a lower suicide rate even.”

But many employers and nonprofit organizations spoke in opposition of the legislation. Some employers say they oppose the legislation because they can’t afford to pay their workers more. Anita Wheeler Bezy, who owns La Baguette in Dover, says her restaurant would have to close or raise its prices.

“The dishwasher who earns minimum wage is going to make $15 an hour and the people who do make $15 an hour and went through culinary arts school are going to want a raise too," she said. "So it’s not just about the minimum wage, it’s also about the current salary of those who work for us.”

Some vendors the state pays to provide people services also say the state would have to increase their funding to cover the additional costs to them.

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