Nebraska legislators propose raising minimum wage

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Updated: Mon, 20 Jan 2014 08:29:39 CST

President Obama would like to see the Federal minimum wage rise to $10.10 an hour.

A group of Nebraska legislators is pushing a similar increase at the state level.

Minimum wage would be  $9.00 by 2017, but some say that change could help make some, while breaking others.

Teal Boutique in Hastings is thriving after just two years in business.

They have 12 part time employees, and most of them make over minimum wage.

"I feel like minimum wage is one of those things that with the cost of living and the cost of gas and all of those things, it probably needs to be higher anyway." Said Co-Owner Brittini Schuldt.

13 State Senators are sponsoring LB 943, a bill to gradually raise the minimum wage.

It's currently $7.25 an hour. It would be $7.65 in 2015, $8.35 in 2016 and $9.00 by 2017.

That extra dollar and 75 cents an hour translates into over 36-hundred dollars more in a year.

"To try to live on 40 hours a week at minimum wage is going to be really tough especially if you have kids." Said Associate Professor of Political Science at Hastings College, Bob Amyot.

Senator Jeremy Nordquist says almost one in ten Nebraska families lives below the poverty line, and this increase can help them make ends meet.

Though some business owners say that increasing pay would mean they'd have to decrease their number of employees.

Right now Nebraska has the third smallest unemployment rate.

"We haven't been experiencing very much inflation at all lately, so without inflation, if prices aren't going up, why should wages have to go up." Said Amyot, of whether or not the state needs a wage increase.

Schuldt says Teal Boutique is willing and able to raise wages if necessary and they would do it without cutting employees.

"My business partner and I spend a lot of time at the store ourselves, and so I think that makes a big difference in our payroll overall." Said Schuldt.

Right now Nebraska's minimum wage is the same as the federal minimum wage at $7.25 an hour.

That's  $2.07 less than the state with the highest minimum wage. Washington State is $9.32 an hour, and just this week the Governor proposed raising it again.