A few state senators have come out in support of an increase in the minimum wage and say if Congress won’t act, they will work to raise the state minimum wage.
Four years ago, Congress increased the federal minimum wage to $7.25 an hour.
Sen. Jeremy Nordquist of Omaha says it’s time to raise the wage again and believes Nebraskans might be receptive to an increase.
“Well, I think we need to make the case that an increase in the minimum wage puts dollars in the hands of individuals who spend their entire paycheck meeting their basic family needs, putting food on the table, meeting their health care needs,” Nordquist tells Nebraska Radio Network affiliate KLIN.
Nordquist is chairman of the Economic Security Working Group, a national group of state lawmakers.
Nordquist says that if nothing is done in Washington, he will push for an increase on the state level during next year’s legislative session.
“As inflation and the cost of food has gone up and the cost of transportation has gone up, minimum-wage workers, half of which are adults who support families, have seen their inability to meet those basic family needs increase,” Nordquist says.
According to Nordquist, despite the high rate of employment in Nebraska, nearly one in every 10 Nebraska families lives below the poverty line; with the number of children living in poverty on the rise.
State senators also calling for an increase in the minimum wage include Sen. Tanya Cook of Omaha, Sen. Ken Haar of Malcolm, Sen. Sara Howard of Omaha, Sen. Rick Kolowski of Omaha and Sen. Heath Mello of Omaha.
Jane Monnich, KLIN, contributed to this report.