Monday, October 6, 2008

Rossi Wants To Lower the Minimum Wage

Ever since last week's gubernatorial debate in front of the Association of Washington Business, there has been a huge outcry regarding Dino Rossi's public statement that he favored lowering Washington's minimum wage. Today, reporter Chris McGann of the Seattle P-I, has the story:
"Few lines distinguish the two major party candidates for governor as starkly as Washington's low-water mark for hourly pay, the state minimum wage... Gov. Chris Gregoire, daughter of a single mom who was a short-order cook, a career politician and supporter of labor unions, has vowed to uphold it. Republican challenger Dino Rossi, a self-made millionaire, a businessman who believes in the free market and a limited role of government, supports efforts to reduce it."
It's true that our state's minimum wage is the highest in the nation, thanks to a voter-approved initiative. Today, Washington's minimum wage is $8.07 per hour, or $16,786 per year (if you work 40 hours a week for 52 weeks). According to McGann, almost 57,000 full-time workers in this state earned the minimum wage in 2007. I can't even imagine how hard it would be to get by at that wage, even if you are young and single, let alone if you are a single mom trying to support a family. Stunningly, Rossi, who is wealthier now than he ever has been, thinks that's too much.

Initiative 688, which not only raised the state minimum wage but also indexed the minimum wage to inflation, was approved by a 2-1 margin in 1998. Considering the economic anxiety most working families are feeling these days, the measure would undoubtedly receive even more support if it were on the ballot this year. It just goes to show how out of touch Rossi is with the people who have to struggle to make ends meet. It's no wonder Gregoire just launched a new TV ad on this issue:

The politicians in Washington DC have shown us what happens when the government is controlled by sycophants for the rich. We need to make sure that doesn't happen here. -- Dennis

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