Minimum wage debate to continue in Annapolis

ANNAPOLIS, Md. - The debate over raising the minimum wage will continue Tuesday when a bill on the subject will receive a hearing in Annapolis.

The House Economic Matters Committee has scheduled a 1 p.m. hearing on whether to raise the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour by 2016 an index it to the cost of living after that.

Gov. Martin O'Malley, along with religious leader, business owners, state lawmakers, economists and low wage workers are scheduled to testify in favor of increasing Maryland's minimum wage. A hearing on the issue will be held in the Senate Finance Committee on Thursday, Feb. 13.

Proponents of the increase site the nonpartisan Economic Policy Institute, which has found that more than 455,000 Marylanders would benefit from the increase while businesses would benefit from nearly $500 billion in new consumer spending and would create more than 1,600 new full-time jobs.

Opponents believe an increase would negatively impact small businesses and would lead some to cut job to deal with the added expenses.

A study commissioned by the Maryland Foundation for Research and Economic Education found that raising the minimum wage would increase the price of consumer goods, reduce employment and personal income, weaken the state's competitive position compared to adjacent states with lower labor costs, slow the growth state product and slow population growth and weaken real estate values.

In all, according to the study, a minimum wage increase as proposed would cost the state $1.2 billion by 2020.

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