Under the Dome

NC Senate Democrats want to raise minimum wage to $12 an hour

Sen. Angela Bryant, right, wants to raise the state’s minimum wage to $12 per hour.
Sen. Angela Bryant, right, wants to raise the state’s minimum wage to $12 per hour. cseward@newsobserver.com

While they admit they’re unlikely to succeed this session, two Senate Democrats called Wednesday for an increase in the state’s minimum wage.

Sen. Angela Bryant of Rocky Mount and Sen. Joyce Waddell of Mecklenburg County held a news conference to draw attention to their bill. It would raise the minimum wage from $7.25 per hour to $12, and tie future annual increases to the Consumer Price Index, which measures inflation.

“While everyone is talking about bathrooms and discrimination, we’ve got a large part of our community that is struggling,” Waddell said. “We must do better. We’re going to push that bill forward until it gets some attention.”

Bryant said that $12 is “not an ideal level, but we thought it was a reasonable compromise.” The bill also sets aside $2 million to boost pay for state employees who are currently paid minimum wage.

Republican Senate leaders are unlikely to hold votes on the bill this session. The legislation has been referred to the Senate Ways & Means Committee, a group that hasn’t met in years. It’s where bills go when the leadership doesn’t want to consider them.

“Our legislation, we know, will not see the light of day,” Bryant said. “Not only do they stand against the minimum wage, some in their party believe that wages are too high.”

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