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Statehouse Democrats propose $15 an hour minimum wage

Statehouse Democrats proposed giving nearly two million Ohioans a raise by introducing a bill to raise the state's minimum wage. The current minimum wage of $8.30 would gradually be raised to $15 an hour by the year 2025. (WSYX/WTTE)

Statehouse Democrats proposed giving nearly two million Ohioans a raise by introducing a bill to raise the state's minimum wage. The current minimum wage of $8.30 would gradually be raised to $15 an hour by the year 2025.

The plan would hike the minimum wage to $12 an hour in 2019 and increase it by 50 cents each year until it reached $15.

"You've got to rob Peter to pay Paul and that's what I'm doing," said Chaundra Kidd, a nursing home worker in Cleveland who makes a little more than the minimum wage. "I've got to decide if this bill is going to get paid if this bill is going to get paid or is this other bill going to get paid and how I'm going to do it."

Kidd attended the press conference with House and Senate Democrats Tuesday calling for the $15 minimum wage.

"It would help me get a little bit more ahead from where I am now," she said. "I do make a little bit more than the minimum wage is at but I need more. I need help."

Democrats supporting the bill said half of the people on Medicaid, receiving food stamps or on another form of state assistance work full-time, year-round for minimum wage. They said people working full-time shouldn't struggle to get by.

"You can't keep good workers when you're only paying them minimum wage to do a really, really tough job," said Sen. Joe Schiavoni, D - Boardman, who is also running for the Democratic nomination for governor. “All people want in this state is an opportunity to stay in the state, raise their family in this state and grow in this state.”

No Republicans have agreed to co-sponsor the legislation. Senate President Larry Obhof released a statement saying, "(Tuesday's) press conference was not about working people, it was about election-year politics. It¹s a tired playbook of class warfare combined with bad economic policy."

A spokesman for House Speaker Cliff Rosenberger said, "Arbitrarily raising the cost of doing business only makes it more difficult for entrepreneurs to create new jobs and for job-seekers to find employment... The goal for House Republicans will continue to be to promote market-driven policies that in the long run benefit employees, consumers and small-business owners alike."

Democrats dismissed the notion raising the minimum wage would hurt businesses. They said low-wage workers would reinvest much of the money they'd be making back into the economy by buying more.

“If people don’t have enough money to pay their bills, they’re not stopping to buy a cup of coffee on their way to work, they’re not tossing anything extra into their grocery cart and those are things that also impact our communities," said House Assistant Democratic Whip Brigid Kelly, D - Cincinnati.

Republicans have strong majorities in both the House and Senate. The legislation is unlikely to go anywhere without Republican support. Democrats said they're moving forward anyway.

“You’ve got to start somewhere," Schiavoni said. "You have to start pressuring people."

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