Nebraska lawmakers propose bill to double minimum wage
LINCOLN, Neb. (KMTV) — For the last few weeks, Congress has been discussing raising the federal minimum wage. Monday, one state senator tried to do the same for Nebraska — progressively raising the minimum wage up to $20 an hour.
Nebraska has a low unemployment rate of 2.8%, less than half the current national unemployment rate. Despite this, Sen. Terrell McKinney said many of her constituents are not making enough, having to work two jobs to make ends meet.
In fact, McKinney’s district of north Omaha makes less on average than any other legislative district in the state. His bill would drastically escalate Nebraska’s minimum wage to $20 over a decade.
“We have to show we care more about these people and less about business owners,” McKinney said. “Business owners, since they’re so smart, they’ll find a way to survive. But we have to take care of Nebraskans.”
But, not everyone is on board with the bill. Dallas Jones, a representative with the Lincoln Independent Business Association (LIBA), said business owners are already paying what they can afford.
“Many businesses will close and the very jobs that proponents of this bill hoped would drive people out of poverty, would vanish,” said Jones.
State senator Tim Gragert, who sits on the Business and Labor Committee, said he’s worried that by raising the minimum wage the price of products will also skyrocket.
“My brother owns a grocery store. All the prices of groceries are going to go up, as the price of minimum wage goes up,” said Gragert.
If the minimum wage is raised to $20, the annual salary of minimum wage earners would more than double.
A federal minimum wage increase to $15 an hour was going to be included in the next COVID relief bill, but the item was removed.