An attempt will be made during the upcoming legislative session to raise the state’s minimum wage.
Sen. Jeremy Nordquist of Omaha says it is past time to begin raising the minimum wage.
“Our median income has been stagnant, has actually gone down since 2008; our real median income. And the minimum wage has been set at $7.25 for now four years in a row,” Nordquist tells Kevin Thomas, host of Drive Time Lincoln on Nebraska Radio Network affiliate KLIN.
“We know that an increase in the minimum wage is going to put dollars back into the pockets of low-income workers who are going to turn around and spend those dollars to meet the basic needs of their families.”
Nordquist proposes raising the minimum wage to $9 an hour over the next three-to-five years.
Nordquist says the state minimum wage of $7.25 an hour actually triggers government subsidies for low-wage jobs.
“We get a list in our office every year; I request the long list of businesses that have hundreds of employees receiving Medicaid coverage for themselves and their families,” Nordquist says. “Many of these families obviously are receiving food stamp benefits, but we are subsidizing low-wage employment.”
Nordquist says a gradual phase-in should ease the concerns of business owners.
“We need to make sure, at least from the businesses that I’ve heard from, is phase it in, phase it in gradually,” Nordquist says. “That’s their biggest concern and that’s a concern that we’re going to address.”
Nordquist says the minimum wage needs to be raised to narrow the income gap between the poor and the wealthy.
Kevin Thomas, KLIN, contributed to this article.