Lawmakers Want to Increase Minimum Wage, Gov. Bentley Says No

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By Ashley Thompson

As the national debate over increasing the minimum wage continues in Washington, the same debate is taking place here in Montgomery.
Alabama is one of just five states without an minimum wage law. Right now the federal minimum wage is at 7.25 which comes out to about 15 thousand a year, and some say that's not enough for the average person to live on.

Representative Darrio Melton of Selma is sponsoring a bill that would make the minimum wage in Alabama $9.80. He says doing so would benefit the state economically.

"The numbers that we have seen from the EPI, Economic Policy Institute, says if we raise up to $9.80, it would create 1800 jobs."

But Governor Robert Bentley tells us he believes more jobs will be lost if the minimum wage is raised.

"When you raise the minimum wage, obviously it helps the person who's salary is at a minimum wage but someone has to pay for it."

He says the state can't afford to bring the $7.25 to $9.80 and tells us he believes most Alabamians are making above minimum wage anyway.

"What happens is either less jobs are created, less jobs are developed or the money that is put in the jobs will passed on to the people who consume whatever is produced at the business."

But is Bentley hurting himself during an election year by not fighting for higher pay? Political Analyst Steve Flowers doesn't think so.

"The chances of it passing Alabama are very low," he says. "This is an extremely republican legislature and extremely republican governor and traditionally it's been a total partisan issue. Democrats are for raising the minimum wage, republicans have been against it."

But Melton says he will continue to advocate for raising the minimum wage, saying the governor just doesn't get it.

"Every job that we have in the state of Alabama I think personally should be a good paying job," he says. "Any governor that says he doesn't need a salary to be governor is out of touch with people who need every penny they need."

The federal government is trying to increase the minimum wage to $10.10. If that happens, Alabama will be required to follow suit.