No, Ike, No!

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County Executive Ike Leggett vetoed the $15 minimum wage bill tonight, for reasons that just don’t measure up.

Montgomery County Executive Isiah Leggett on Monday vetoed legislation that would have made the wealthy jurisdiction the first in Maryland to require a $15 minimum wage.

Leggett (D) said boosting the wage to the level embraced by national progressive activists, including former Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders (Vt.), would harm Montgomery’s economy and its ability to compete for jobs in the Washington region.

The only locality that has adopted a $15 minimum is the District of Columbia, which will require employers to pay that wage by 2020.

“I remain concerned . . . about the competitive disadvantage [the bill] would put the County in compared to our neighboring jurisdictions,” Leggett said in a letter to Council President Roger Berliner (D-Potomac-Bethesda).

Leggett left the door open to considering a revised bill, pending a study of the economic impacts of a $15 wage on the public, private, and nonprofit sectors. He also called for phase-in of the wage hike to be extended to 2022 — two years after the District will begin paying workers a minimum of $15 an hour — and to include an exemption for small business and youth workers.

Businesses always complain about the minimum wage – and somehow it always works out. What doesn’t work out when the minimum wage stagnates is that working class people can’t afford to live in our communities anymore. And they end up on public assistance, which simply means that taxpayers end up subsidizing the strategic plans of businesses who will then end up clamoring for lower taxes as well.

This was a bad move. It puts the issue front and center for the 2018 campaign and the progressive, labor friendly side will win. But in the meantime, workers will spend more time making insufficient wages until we get a county executive who is on the right side of these issues. 

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