Advocates argue for a $10 minimum wage in Louisiana, citing inflation and stagnant wages since 2009
Louisiana lawmakers have rejected a bill that would have established a state minimum wage of $10 per hour, with gradual increases to $14 by 2028. House Bill 374, sponsored by Rep. Ed Larvadain, D-Alexandria, failed to pass the House Committee on Labor and Industrial Relations in a 5-9 vote along party lines on Wednesday.
Louisiana is one of five states that does not have its own minimum wage law, instead relying on the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour, which has not been increased since 2009. Despite overwhelming support from Democrat and Republican voters in the state for a minimum wage increase, Louisiana lawmakers have repeatedly rejected such proposals in recent years.
In Wednesday's hearing, Republicans on the committee argued that the “free market” should determine how wages are set and that the minimum wage is only intended for high school students and people just getting out of prison. However, advocates for the bill argued that the minimum wage is necessary to lift communities out of poverty.
Peter Robins-Brown, executive director of Louisiana Progress, disputed claims that minimum wage hikes hurt the economy and lead to unemployment, calling them "scare tactics" and stating that research has disproved them. Meanwhile, Jim Patterson of the Louisiana Association of Business and Industry testified against the minimum wage increase, claiming that no one in the private sector is making that low wage.
Jan Moller of the Louisiana Budget Project provided data in support of the bill, stating that if the federal minimum wage had kept up with inflation since 1968, it would be equivalent to $14 per hour today. Despite these arguments, the bill ultimately failed to pass the committee, with Republicans citing concerns about the free market and potential negative effects on the economy.