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Why I’m Sponsoring the Minimum Wage Legislation

Minimum Wage public hearingI am cosponsoring Mayor Murray’s minimum wage legislation because it’s time for cities to demonstrate bold and necessary leadership to address the stagnation of wages that has plagued our country for decades.

Why does this matter?

An economy where the wealthiest grow exceedingly richer while the poor and middle class experience a real decline in earning power rips apart our social fabric. The growing income and wealth inequality in our country is a dangerous trend.

As someone who started and grew a business for 20 years, I want to see individuals and businesses achieve success, provide meaningful work to their employees and produce goods and services that benefit their communities. I cringe at some of the rhetoric that demeans and disparages those who have achieved such success. But I also believe everyone should have a shot at that success and, today, for many reasons, a lot of people are being left out.

Low wage earners in our city and region struggle to support themselves or raise a family with a sense of economic stability and hope. This reality is not good for anyone.

Ideally, this issue would be addressed at the federal and state level, but it hasn’t been and likely won’t be anytime soon. So, as is often the case, cities like Seattle need to step up and lead.

Mayor Murray’s minimum wage legislation is a workable and careful compromise that recognizes both the harm caused by stagnant wages and the harm to local businesses should we move forward too quickly. Our homegrown small businesses provide much of the neighborhood character that we cherish in Seattle, and the Mayor’s compromise gives smaller businesses—and those offering other benefits—more time to phase in the increase.

As a cosponsor, I am expressing my strong support for the foundations of this historic proposal. At the same time, the Council has an important role to ask questions, clarify details, and listen to the public. The Council has held seven public meetings on this topic and more are scheduled over the next few weeks.

It is also important to me that we don’t start to believe that raising the minimum wage is all that matters. It’s not.

Education matters. Earlier today, Mayor Murray and I announced the details of our Seattle Preschool Program, an evidence-based, high-quality effort to prepare our children to enter kindergarten ready to learn. Making sure all our kids have a strong and fair start in school is another great step to address economic stagnation.

Crime and neighborhood safety matters. While overall crime in Seattle is relatively low, there are pockets of our city where crime is a frequent and persistent problem.  Crime is geographically anchored, often where our most vulnerable, poor and disenfranchised people live. Seattle’s next police chief must implement effective policing strategies, in close partnership with residents and businesses that identify the most harmful people and places and put an end to the crime and disorder that holds neighborhoods back from achieving their potential.

Transportation matters. Earlier this week, Mayor Murray recommended sending a funding package to the November ballot to preserve Metro bus service. An almost identical revenue package was approved by 66% of Seattle voters two weeks ago, but failed county-wide. If passed by Seattle voters in November, the money raised will be used exclusively for transit services. Efficient public transit is essential for economic growth and especially important for low-wage earners who often can’t afford any other means of transportation.

Addressing these important matters—education, crime, transportation—along with the minimum wage will help Seattle address the opportunity gap that exists today for so many.

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