Kentucky House speaker proposes higher minimum wage
House Speaker Greg Stumbo
Senate President Robert Stivers
FRANKFORT, KY (WAVE) - Kentucky House Speaker Greg Stumbo said he will push a measure in this year's legislative session that would increase the minimum wage to more than $10 an hour.
Stumbo, who made the comments during a wide-ranging news conference Friday, said the proposal mirrors a plan that congressional Democrats have promoted that would call for a $2.85 increase over three years.
"If the General Assembly wants to go higher, I don't have any problem with it," said Stumbo (D-Prestonburg). "To me, it makes more sense to mirror the federal law. I think it's easier to sell to (other lawmakers)."
Stumbo's legislation was one of several proposals for the session that starts Tuesday that drew criticism from Republican leaders in the state Senate.
Lawmakers should instead simplify the tax code, ease regulations on businesses, and approve legislation to train workers, said Sen. Robert Stivers, the Senate president.
"I find it interesting that he's talking about increasing the minimum wage when they're not talking about the creation of jobs," said Stivers (R-Manchester).
Stivers also disagreed with Stumbo on the issue of allowing voters to approve a sales tax increase to fund education. Stumbo said that he was considering legislation to ask voters to raise Kentucky's sales tax to 7 percent, which he said would produce $500 million a year for schools.
"I don't think any state has ever done that," he said about a statewide sales tax option. "The people would get to choose (whether to approve it) and that money would be protected in perpetuity."
Stivers said lawmakers should add charter schools, decide how to fix failing schools in Metro Louisville, and change the system for compensating good teachers.
"This seems to be a typical ploy if (Stumbo's) party," Stivers said. 'They just seem to think that throwing money at an issue is the solution."
Stumbo said the statewide sales tax debate could make it "challenging" for cities such as Louisville to convince voters on a separate tax increase to fund local infrastructure. Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer has advocated such a measure, known as a local option sales tax.
Stumbo and Stivers both said Gov. Steve Beshear has talked with them about legislation to allow casino gaming in Kentucky, although they couldn't name specific plans.
Beshear will give his annual State of the Commonwealth speech at 7 p.m. Tuesday.