Ceremony highlights new minimum wage law
STATE HOUSE – With a ceremonial stroke of the pen this week, minimum wage workers in Rhode Island will receive a $1-an-hour raise Jan. 1 under a new law that was sponsored by Warwick lawmakers Sen. Erin P. Lynch and Rep. David A. Bennett.
Lawmakers passed the legislation (2014-H 7194A, 2014-S 2249A) in June and Gov. Lincoln D. Chafee approved it, but held a State House signing ceremony Thursday to call attention to the effort to boost low-wage earners’ ability to support themselves and their families. The legislation will raise the minimum wage from $8 to $9. Neighboring Massachusetts also passed legislation to increase its minimum wage to $9 on Jan. 1.
“Supporting yourself and your family in Rhode Island when you make minimum wage is extremely difficult. Those trying to support a family of three or more on it are living below the federal poverty line. This raise will provide some measure of assistance for those struggling at the low end of the pay scale, but our larger goal is to move wages up for all Rhode Islanders by moving the starting point. Our entire economy suffers when the middle class and low-wage earners can’t make ends meet,” said Representative Bennett (D-Dist. 20, Warwick, Cranston).
Said Senator Lynch (D-Dist. 31, Warwick, Cranston), “If you put more money in people’s pockets, they spend, especially those living in or near poverty. They will put it right back into our economy buying the things their families need, supporting local businesses. When a great deal of people don’t have enough, they aren’t the only ones suffering. The small local shops that need their business are hurt, too. We’ve lost far too many of those businesses since the recession, and more money in the pocket of average Rhode Islanders will help prevent us from losing more, while helping families struggling to put food on the table and to pay the rent.”
An employee who makes $8 per hour grosses $16,640 annually if working 40 hours a week all 52 weeks of the year. At $9 an hour, that total increases to $18,720.
Representative Bennett and Senator Lynch were also the sponsors of successful legislation last year that changed Rhode Island’s minimum wage from $7.75 to $8 in 2014.
For more information, contact:
Meredyth R. Whitty, Publicist
State House Room 20
Providence, RI 02903