Baltimore City Council members today opted not to try for a last-minute push to override Mayor Catherine Pugh’s veto of a bill that would have boosted the minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2022.
According to The Sun’s Luke Broadwater, Councilwoman Mary Pat Clarke, the sponsor of the bill that the council sent to Pugh’s desk only two weeks ago, was two votes short of the nine needed to request a veto override hearing. Accepting the proposal as officially dead, Clarke addressed her colleagues, saying the measure “would have changed the lives of hundreds of 100,000 of our local residents and workers.”
Last month, the council took an unprecedented step in approving the measure to raise the citywide minimum hourly wage to $15 within five years. The bill offered an extended timeline for employers with $400,000 or less in annual revenue or fewer than 50 employees, and exempted employees under age 21, some interns and a few other groups.
After the council approved the bill 11-3, Mayor Pugh spent days deciding its fate before announcing on a Friday afternoon that she would veto the bill. Her chief concern was the estimated $115 million it would cost to pay city workers more over the next four years.
“I don’t think there’s anybody that wants more to see the minimum wage increase than I do,” Pugh said. To make up her mind, the mayor said she sought advice from her predecessor, Mayor Kurt Schmoke, as well as policymakers from surrounding counties and local leaders in Baltimore communities.
The council had a chance to overturn her veto, but couldn’t muster up the votes by today.
What made Pugh’s decision all the more shocking was that she campaigned on the promise that she would boost the minimum wage to that exact level as mayor. The Baltimore chapter of the AFL-CIO even disseminated her campaign questionnaire as proof.
Clarke told The Sun she may push for a petition drive to make the minimum wage a ballot measure for the 2018 mid-term election.
In the meantime, Baltimore is set to see a minimum wage increase in three months, albeit a much less drastic one than Clarke proposed. The state minimum wage will increase from $8.75 to $9.25 on July 1, and again to $10.25 the following year.
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