O'Leary said raising the minimum wage puts money in the hands of those who would spend it.
"You are sort of boosting the economy," O'Leary said. "We don't call it a stimulus, because it's not a temporary thing. It's continued. It's sustained."
One in five West Virginia workers would be affected. 113,900 workers would benefit from the wage raise, O'Leary said.
He added 43,000 or 10 percent of the state's kids have a parent that would receive a raise from the minimum wage increase.
If the state's minimum wage is raised to $8.25 per hour, O'Leary said wages would go up $1.5 million per week for workers affected. That's 0.3 percent of all wages paid in West Virginia.
"We are not talking about this huge burden on businesses," O'Leary said. "Businesses are not going to have to dramatically raise prices to make up that 0.3 percent difference."
Raising the minimum wage would put an extra $2,000 annually in workers' pockets like Reed, O'Leary said.
Reed works five days a week from four to 10:30 p.m. every evening. An extra $2,000 annually would "changed my situation tremendously," Reed said.
She doesn't think she'd need public assistance if wages increased.
"We really are talking about struggling families in a state that has such a high poverty level," Frame said. "The boost could be even greater but this would be a step in the right direction."
The Senate and House bills will also change the definition of employer in the state. Currently, workers who earn tips like Reed are paid the federal tipped worker wage of $2.13. Workers are covered by federal law if a business engages in interstate commerce, such as accepting credit cards or order supplies from out-of-state.
"These bills by changing the employer definition, tipped workers will qualify to be paid the West Virginian minimum wage which would then be 80 percent of the regular minimum wage of $8.25 which would be about $6.60," O'Leary said.
O'Leary said there has been very little opposition to raising the minimum wage in the Mountain State.
The Charleston Chamber of Commerce endorsed the effort. The West Virginia Chamber of Commerce did not out right endorse the effort but said its members were in favor of it.
The minimum wage would be $8.25 by 2015. The first bump in wages would come July 1st at $7.85 if the bills pass.
Reed is also one of the 7 percent of minimum wage workers in the state with a college education.
"People really don't know how many people are working at a gas station or Walmart or restaurant serving you food are actually educated and just can't obtain something better," Reed said.
Reach Caitlin Cook at caitlin.c...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5113.