Jay Inslee plans another try at raising state minimum wage

The governor says higher pay is appropriate for those earning the minimum wage.
Gov. Jay Inslee

Gov. Jay Inslee Governor's Office

Gov. Jay Inslee expects to take another crack at raising the state's minimum wage.

"I do believe raising the minimum wage for the state is appropriate," Inslee said in reply to an audience question Wednesday evening in a live KCTS television show. In the "Ask The Governor" broadcast, Inslee did not go into any details on reviving the proposal, but said there will be statewide discussions on the topic.

Washington's minimum wage is $9.32 an hour, the highest in the United States. In Inslee's 2014 State of the State speech, he proposed a $1.50 to $2.50 per hour raise, translating to $10.82 to $11.82 an hour. A month later, Rep. Jessyn Farrell, D-Seattle, introduced a bill that would have increased the state minimum wage from $9.32 an hour to $10 an hour in 2015, to $11 an hour in 2016 and to $12 an hour in 2017. Seattle has passed a city measure to phase in an increase to $15 per hour over a number of years.

Farrell's bill had 31 Democratic co-sponsors and Inslee's support. Her bill died early and silently behind the scenes, amidst rumors that it lacked the votes needed to get through the Democratic-controlled House.

On Wednesday, Inslee spent an hour answering questions from emails, phone calls, tweets and people in the Seattle studio audience. The questions touched on a wide variety of state political subjects, and Inslee discussed each briefly. No major surprises surfaced.

On another issue with economic implications, Inslee denied Republican claims that lowering the carbon content in motor fuels will increase their prices by $1 per gallon. "We're not gonna be jacking up anyone's prices by a dollar a gallon. It's absurd to think so," he said. Inslee has been toying with the idea of pushing low-carbon motor fuels in Washington, a proposal opposed by Republicans.

For exclusive coverage of the state government, check out Crosscut's Under the Dome page.

John Stang is a longtime Inland Northwest newspaper reporter who earned a Masters of Communications in Digital Media degree at the University of Washington. He can be reached by writing editor@crosscut.com.


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