CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Minimum-wage workers in West Virginia would see their hourly pay go from $7.25 to $8.75 by 2016 under a bill passed overwhelmingly Wednesday afternoon by the House of Delegates.
"We're going to help about 100,000 West Virginia families who are going to have more expendable income," said Delegate Mike Caputo, D-Marion. "There are so many families who live paycheck to paycheck on the minimum wage."
The bill (HB4283) passed on an 89-5 vote. Delegates Troy Andes, R-Putnam; Daryl Cowles, R-Morgan; Marty Gearheart, R-Mercer; Larry Kump, R-Berkeley; and John Overington, R-Berkeley, were the only votes against it.
Overington, the only delegate to speak against the bill, reminisced about how working for a low wage and dime tips in high school instilled his work ethic in him.
Delegate Stephen Skinner, D-Jefferson, noted that the minimum wage in 1960, adjusted for inflation, would be more than $10 an hour today.
"What we know about the minimum wage today is it falls on the people of poverty, and no one can live on the minimum wage," Skinner said.
Delegate Meshea Poore, D-Kanawha, said people earning minimum wage are not just students working summer jobs, or unskilled workers, but college-educated individuals who find themselves laid off from better-paying jobs.
Delegate Tiffany Lawrence, D-Jefferson, said a higher minimum wage will help working parents get off of food stamps and other low-income assistance programs.
"Consensus tells us a raise in the minimum wage will provide an economic boom . . . an economic boom in this state," she said.