Fight for Fifteen- A Letter to County Executive Leggett

Dear County Executive Leggett,

On behalf of Woman’s Democratic Club Board of Directors, I urge you to reconsider your position on County Bill 28-17 that would increase the Montgomery County hourly minimum wage to $15 by July 1, 2020 (with specific exemptions), and sign this bill should it pass the County Council.

A job should lift families out of poverty, not keep them in it. Our County should join the District of Columbia and a growing number of other jurisdictions that have increased their hourly minimum wage to $15.

The County already requires County contractors and subcontractors to pay their employees a living wage. We urge you not to block similar support for our minimum wage workers. Even with this increase, minimum wage workers will fall short of what they need for basics in our high-cost county – estimated in 2017 to be nearly $20 per hour. Further delay in implementing the $15 minimum wage will increase this gap.

Like so many other advocate organizations, WDC was disappointed by the flawed Public Financial Management study that failed to adequately evaluate the benefits that would accrue to the County’s minimum wage workers and the economic impact of these benefits. We were pleased to learn that the County will not pay for this study. Other more credible studies have found that raising the minimum wage has little or no negative impact on employment.

The Bill’s slower phase-in, until July 1, 2022 for employers who employ 25 or fewer employees, have IRS 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status, and provide “home health services” or “home or community-based services,” should allow these businesses time to adjust to the new minimum wage. The Bill's "safety valve" suspension provision should adequately safeguard our local economy.

Around 88,000 workers will benefit from this Bill. Many are female and minority heads of households. This Bill will help reduce low-wage workers’ dependence on the County’s social safety-net programs – programs supported by County taxpayer dollars that indirectly subsidize those businesses that pay low wages. This wage increase will benefit our overall economy, putting more money in the hands of low-wage workers who spend most of their income on basic necessities, often at local businesses. Studies show that higher starting wages can significantly impact lifetime earnings – narrowing the income gap.

For these reasons, WDC encourages you to support Bill 28-17.

Respectfully,

Fran Rothstein, President