COLUMBUS, Ohio — Two Ohio senators announced on Monday that they will be introducing legislation that would incrementally raise Ohio’s minimum wage to $15 per hour.
Senator Cecil Thomas (D-Avondale) and Hearcel F. Crag (D-Columbus) made the announcement of their plans to introduce the legislation.
The current minimum wage in Ohio is $8.80 per hour, but if passed, the legislation would increase the minimum wage to $10 per hour in January 2022 and increase the minimum wage by $1 per hour each year until 2027 when it would hit $15.
After 2027, the legislation would set a minimum wage increase every year to keep pace with inflation “as required by the Ohio constitution.”
“Far too many Ohioans work multiple jobs and still can’t afford to pay for food, bills and health care,” Thomas said in a press release. “That’s shameful, but it’s also something the General Assembly can fix by passing this legislation. We need to make sure workers in Ohio are adequately paid so they can take care of their families.”
The proposed legislation would also raise wages of employees who receive tips.
“Raising Ohio’s minimum wage will increase productivity and stimulate consumer spending,” Craig said in the press release. “It is very simple: if Ohioans have more money, they will be more likely to spend it. Increasing our state’s minimum wage is not just the right thing to do, it is also a smart investment in our economy.”
Representative Bridget Kelly (D-Cincinnati) introduced companion legislation in the Ohio House seeking to raise the minimum wage in the state to $15 per hour.
"Giving people a raise is the single most transformative thing that we can do for people and families in our state," Kelly said. "You've got a lot of folks who work full time but can't make ends meet, can't get ahead, are forced to rely on assistance and so we think this is an important step in the right direction for families."
But with businesses hit so hard by the pandemic, the Ohio Restaurant Association (ORA) questions the bill's timing. ORA President and CEO John Barker says so far more than 20% of restaurants have closed bringing the industry's unemployment rate to 19%.
"We lost another 372,000 thousand jobs in December," he said. "Unfortunately, the only thing that a business owner can do to stay home if there's this kind of increase on the labor front is to raise prices. And so you'd see an increase in prices at the grocery store, you'd see an increase in prices at retail. You definitely see an increase in menu prices at restaurants."