LANSING – House Democrats today applauded Governor Jennifer M. Granholm for signing into law a legislative package that raises the minimum wage to $7.40 an hour.
"Raising the minimum wage gives our working families a chance and it shows that we value their work," House Democratic Leader Dianne Byrum said. "Today's signing shows that public pressure will break down any amount of stonewalling. Raising the minimum wage is the right thing to do for our state's economy and for our families struggling to make ends meet."
After House Dems and the public spent a year pressuring the GOP-controlled House to pass the minimum wage bill, Granholm signed the plan into law today. The plan raises Michigan's minimum wage from its current $5.15 an hour to $6.95 on Oct. 1. The wage would climb to $7.15 an hour July 1, 2007, and to $7.40 July 1, 2008. The current $5.15 an hour is the federal rate passed in 1997 and has been unchanged since.
Since House Democrats announced a plan to raise the minimum wage last year, Republicans have repeatedly vowed to block any increase, including dismissing Granholm's call in her State of the State address Jan. 25 to increase the minimum wage. Republicans also voted twice against Democratic plans to raise the minimum wage.
"The cost of rent, home heating, groceries and gasoline continues to increase, while minimum wage workers aren't getting any relief," Rep. Marie Donigan (D-Royal Oak) said. "Well relief is on the way. No one should be forced to choose between gasoline or food for their family. Our working families are struggling and this new law will help them become independent."
A higher wage would help more than 400,000 people in Michigan – many of them the sole breadwinners of their families – and boost local economies. The value of the dollar is at its lowest since 1949. Michigan is now poised to become the 17th state plus the District of Columbia to have a minimum wage higher than the federal rate.