Opinion

Our Voice: Look below the surface of minimum wage increases

Despite our affection for our state, Washington does have some drawbacks.

One big problem is that we are not business friendly.

Time and again, we have seen businesses move operations out of the state because of the poor way we treat the very businesses that drive the economic health of the region.

The current controversial issue is the measure recently passed in the state House that would increase the minimum wage to $12 an hour.

Washington already has the highest minimum wage in the nation at $9.47. And it is by no means the most expensive state in which to live.

Sure, we want folks to make a decent living and be able to care for themselves and their families. But nobody ever said a minimum-wage job was the solution to economic well-being. It is a means to an end, a starting point, a part-time gig, a job to take on the way to something else or to fit in around classes or semi-retirement.

And now, in all their wisdom, our elected leaders want to make it even more challenging for business owners — large and small.

The proposal would phase in the wage over four years. Under our present system, the minimum wage adjusts up every January, based on inflation. And it might be close to $12 in another four years, but at least it would be based on the economy, not just some lawmakers’ good intentions.

Proponents say it would stimulate spending among lower-wage earners and help the middle class as well.

Clearly, they don’t know business.

If business owners are forced to accept the $12 rate, they will have to find a way to make it work. This is an unfunded mandate, and that means managers will have to cut something to afford the new wage.

That could mean fewer employees working more hours. It could mean a business that is just getting by will close its doors. It could mean a valued long-term employee will be less likely to receive a raise because that money was absorbed by the cost of the higher minimum wage for entry-level workers.

None of it makes sense. The only thing that does is that the vote in the Democratic-controlled House went along party lines. Let’s hope it doesn’t make it out of the Senate.

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