In our Dispatch this week, Progressive States took a look at what state and local governments are doing to raise wages beyond the basic fight to raise the base minimum wage. And, as you'll see, they are doing a lot, pioneering a whole new progressive policy committed to making work pay and making public policy serve that goal.
The minimum wage is at an historic low. This moral travesty has sparked campaigns in states across the country to use legislative and ballot issue processes to raise the minimum and improve people's lives. As Forbes reports, that has some corporations nervous.
Colorado's Governor Bill Owen achieved the dubious personal record of eighteen vetos in one day, blocking bills to make health care more affordable, education more available and workplaces safer:
Owens vetoed one of the Democrats' top bills of the session on Friday by rejecting Senate Bill 1, a measure that called for the state to join other states in purchasing prescription drugs at a discount by buying in bulk...Five of the 18 bills were related to health care.
Paying terrible wages was never likely to be a route to economic growth, so it's hardly surprising that research continues to show that Wal-Mart's growth undermines local economies. The most recent study is in the June 2006 issue of Social Science Quarterly (subscription).
Back in 1968, the federal minimum wage was $1.60 per hour-- or if adjusted for inflation -- $9.16 per hour. Yes-- almost forty years ago, the minimum acceptable wage in this country was over $9 per hour.
As part of the rightwing attack on speech they dislike, a 2001 Utah law barred local governments from allowing public employee unions to collect funds through voluntary government payroll deductions. This attack on both unions and local government home rule was struck down by U.S.
The New York Times has an excellent story that encapsulates the American dream and a legislator helping fight to make it more achievable.
David Mejias' parents are immigrants. His parents' hard work paid off.
North Carolinians for Fair Wages is optimistic about their likelihood of securing a minimum wage increase this year, but notes that an outpouring of public support could still make a huge difference for NC workers.
The current bill includes an $0.85 increase in the minimum wage, but the goal of the coalition is to achieve a $1.00 increase tied to inflation.
The U.S. Senate is considering a health care bill that effectively guts health insurance as we know it. NYCeve at dKos has more. It's definitely worth a read for anyone in the business of health insurance at the state level.