States do not have to wait for the federal government to jump start their local economies. They can be proactive, in spite of their revenue and budget problems, by instituting a proven economic stimulant at a low cost: a minimum wage increase.
Washington state Governor Christine Gregoire signed a bill
to combat wage theft this week, adding Washington to a growing number
of states and counties, including Miami-Dade
County, cracking down on employers who underpay workers (many of
them undocumented immigrants) and violate minimum wage and overtime
Recently conservatives in Montana sought to roll back the annual cost-of-living wage increases for minimum wage workers that voters overwhelmingly approved in 2006 by 73-27%. Montana is one of twenty-seven states (plus the District of Columbia)
that has a minimum wage higher than the federal minimum wage, and one
of eleven states that index the minimum wage to the consumer price
index. Montana progressives successfully fought a conservative push by
the restaurant industry to keep wages stagnant.