Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh has decided to veto legislation to raise the city’s minimum wage to $15 an hour by the year 2020.
Mayor Pugh decided not to accelerate the cities minimum wage increase after talking to small business owners. She admitted that decision to veto the legislation was a difficult one.
“The economic impact that I think this has on the city making us the ‘hole in the donut.’ It is not appropriate at this time that I will sign this bill,” the Mayor said in a statement.
The state of Maryland’s minimum wage is set to increase to $10.10 an hour by the year 2018. If passed, Baltimore’s legislation would have paid minimum wage workers in the city almost 50% more than those in the rest of the state.
In mid-March, the Baltimore City Council voted 11-3 in favor of increasing the minimum wage to $15. The Mayor’s veto came as a shock to many on the Council. “We object that this bill which gave us such an opportunity to make a real difference has been put on the shelf through a veto,” Councilwoman Mary Pat Clarke said, denouncing the Mayor’s action.
At this point, it is unclear whether there will be an attempt to override the veto. Mayoral vetoes are traditionally difficult to overturn. Councilman Edward Reisinger voted for the minimum wage hike but announced that he would not support a veto override. “The Mayor has some very persuasive arguments,” he said, “Baltimore City does not have a money tree.”
The decision to veto the bill came just days after Washington DC’s Chief Financial Officer released a report warning that the District’s $15 minimum wage law could eliminate thousands of jobs.
The District of Columbia’s minimum wage hike went into effect in January of 2016. During the first six months of the wage increase, DC’s restaurants lost 1,400 jobs. By comparison, the hospitality industry in the Virginia and Maryland suburbs increased by 3,000 jobs over the same period.
Many worried that the same would be true – that businesses would move their jobs outside the city to save on payroll - if Baltimore had followed DC’s lead.
Baltimore’s minimum wage will now increase alongside the rest of the state of Maryland. In July of 2017, the state’s minimum wage will increase to $9.25 an hour. The following summer, it will increase to $10.10.