President Barack Obama announced Wednesday that in a 54-42 vote the Senate blocked a bill that would have increased the federal minimum wage from $7.25 to $10.10 an hour.
The bill was heavily supported by Senate Democrats and the president himself. The president urged Americans to make their voices heard to their elected leaders.
It’s being called another defeat for workers who make low wages in Florida and across the country.
Locally, state senators are weighing in.
“It’s just more push back from the Republican Party as far as I’m concerned,” said Democratic state Sen. Audrey Gibson.
Gibson said higher wages are good for the economy. But her counterpart, Republican Sen. Aaron Bean, said the idea is too costly.
“Our own congressional budget office has estimated that 500,000 jobs would be lost should this proposal pass,” said Bean. “I am a small-business guy myself -- do the math. When all of a sudden your working expenses skyrocket, what do you do? You hire less people.”
But Gibson sees it a different way.
“I say that there will be a balance based on an increase in spending because there is more disposable income when we raise the wages,” said Gibson.
The federal minimum wage has been $7.25 an hour since 2009 and more than 3 million Americans earned that amount or less last year.
In Florida’s state Legislature there is a bill in the House and Senate geared toward raising the minimum wage, but so far there has been no progress. Since the session ends Friday, that’s likely not going to change.