“Are the Year of Service and Minimum Wage Increases best for Maryland?”

The following article was submitted by District 7 Delegates Lauren Arikan, Ryan Nawrocki and Kathy Szeliga about the Maryland minimum wage increase

We all want to help our neighbors when they are in a time of need. The government has created a social safety net that is supposed to function as a temporary means of getting someone out of their situation and back on track. Social programs are supposed to be temporary, not permanent.

As President Ronald Reagan said in a 1980 campaign speech, “I believe the best social program is a job!” And over 130 million Americans pride themselves on a full-time job. Many more take pride in a part-time job while they juggle family and other obligations.

There are approximately ten million job openings in the United States, with about six million people unemployed. As a result, the 3.6% unemployment rate should be much closer to zero.

Plenty of jobs are available, but sometimes social programs have caused people to stall instead of entering the workforce as soon as possible.

While the entire workforce is not physically able to work and genuinely needs help, many unemployed still can access one of the ten million available jobs. Rather than encourage economic growth through cutting taxes and supporting small businesses that can then pass along pay increases to their employees,

Governor Moore has proudly touted raising the minimum wage as a priority of his administration.

Maryland’s minimum wage is currently $13.25. It will be $15/hour beginning on January 1, 2024. Governor Moore had a proposal to increase our minimum wage to $15 per hour on October 1 of this year and included annual increases for eternity.

Lawmakers should be required to vote on serious economic policies like raising the minimum wage rather than putting it on cruise control. Fortunately, we were successful in stopping automatic annual increases.

On January 1, 2024, Maryland will be one of only six states in the nation with a minimum wage of $15/hour or more.

The remaining states are below $15, and 15 states follow the federal minimum wage of $7.25/hour.

We compete with our surrounding states for jobs, tourism, and businesses. The states around us have much lower minimum wages; VA $12, DE $11.75, WV $8.75. Although, Washington DC is above $15/hour already!

The minimum wage is geared toward young people as they are hired for their first job and enter the workforce. By raising the minimum wage, there will be fewer jobs for young people. You can see this happening. Has anyone gone to a gas station, grocery store, or general store recently to see how many jobs are being phased out by automation in response to laws like this?

And when the 16-year-old is hired at $15/hour, everyone else in the business will need a pay increase too. All of these costs will be passed on to you, the consumer.

The argument that the minimum wage must be increased to help single moms afford to live is false. The earned income and child tax credits are there to help struggling families.

Senior citizens and people on a fixed income will really feel the impact of a $15/hour minimum.

Seniors need help and this will drive up lawn care costs, restaurants, home healthcare, and other services seniors need.

Think about your family vacation to Ocean City. Young people make that town run. Everything will be more expensive, such as dining out at a local restaurant, the amusements, the rides, cleaning, and landscaping.

These are important career-building jobs typically staffed by young people who use the money to help with family expenses, including education, transportation, and recreation.

Maryland’s minimum wage will be more than double the federal minimum wage and much higher than neighboring states. Ultimately, this policy costs the consumer and small businesses at a time when inflation is impacting every Marylander’s pocket.

Raising the minimum wage to $15 per hour will hurt Maryland youth, families, seniors, and Maryland small businesses. It passed on a party-line vote, and we voted no.

Governor Moore has often bragged about his program offering paid service options for young adults and worked to establish the Department of Service and Civic Innovation and Maryland Corps Service Year Option Pathways.

This program will be funded by taxpayers. This program is a year-long government job for recent high school graduates. At a time when the labor force participation rate in Maryland is lower than it should be, and many small businesses are struggling to hire, we don’t think the government should be competing with small businesses for workers.

This program is unnecessary and plenty of employment opportunities are available for high school graduates who are not going to college or taking a gap year.

While we agree that volunteer service is a pathway to success, we do not believe that our taxpayer dollars should fund a government jobs program when there are so many help-wanted signs in the community.

Unfortunately, we do not see these economic plans steering our state in the right direction. Raising the minimum wage and creating a government worker program will cost you and your family more money through increased costs of things you need and higher taxes.


Benjamin Joseph

Benjamin Joesph has covered news in Eastern Baltimore County since 2006. He started as a reporter with the original East County Times in 2006. He started East Baltco News and later Eastcountytimes.com in 2022.