Maryland Raises the Minimum Wage - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Maryland Raises the Minimum Wage

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CAMBRIDGE, Md.- After months of heated debate, Maryland on Monday became the second state to adopt the $10.10 minimum wage hike in the country. 

The vote passed in an 87-47 vote in the House of Delegates, but instead of being implemented by 2016, the $10.10 minimum wage will arrive in July of 2018.

The change will not take place all at once. On Jan. 1, 2015, the minimum wage will rise from $7.25 an hour to $8 an hour.  Then in July of 2015, it rises to $8.25.  In July of 2016 it rises again to $8.75 an hour.  A year later in July of 2017, it hits $9.25 an hour, and finally in July of 2018, the minimum wage settles at $10.10 an hour.

Passage of the minimum wage bill won praise from President Barack Obama.
 
"Maryland's important action is a reminder that many states, cities and counties - as well as a majority of the American people - are way ahead of Washington on this crucial issue," the president said in a statement.

In Cambridge, business owners and employees alike felt mixed on the issue.  Antoine Ennals, a cook at Paul's Subs, says he hopes it will help bolster the town's economy.

"There's a lot of minimum wage jobs around here.  So that does mean there would be a lot more people around here with a little bit of extra change in their pockets, which can only boost the Cambridge economy," said Ennals.

At the same time, he says that the hike will also cause the cost of goods and services to rise, which he says puts everyone right back where it all began.

Like Ennals, Cathy Elzey says she's concerned that some businesses may close as wages increase, but getting by on paycheck to paycheck now is difficult.

"You have to live without things.  It's either you're gonna pay for your electric or put food on the table," said Elzey.

Business owners are nervous about what the change will bring.  Deborah Divins says she thought the bill would pass, and was hoping implementation would be longer than the proposed 2016 deadline to allow businesses to catch up.

"A lot of these businesses are still looking to the light at the end of the tunnel, trying to stay open for when times get better.  And all of a sudden trying to implement such a huge increase on salaries could have a really negative impact and really negate the effects of what it was supposed to do in the first place," said Divins. 

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