Wednesday, June 27, 2007

A Living Wage

The HoCo Council is scheduled to take up a bill that would set a "living wage" on county contractors that is higher than the level recently set by the state. County exec Ulman wonders about the budgetary impact of paying more.

From the Sun:

"Sponsored by Chairman Calvin Ball, an east Columbia Democrat, and co-sponsored by Jen Terrasa, a North Laurel-Savage Democrat, the bill would require contractors with five or more workers who do at least $100,000 a year in county work to pay at least $12.41 an hour, which is 125 percent of the federal poverty guideline. It exempts nonprofits and some contracts involving special circumstances.

That is higher than the $11.30-an-hour standard set for the Central Maryland region in a similar law on state government contracts signed by Gov. Martin O'Malley last month. Maryland was the first state in the nation to pass a living-wage bill, though Baltimore adopted one in 1994, and living-wage laws also exist in Montgomery and Prince Georges counties.

'I looked at what it costs to live and survive in Howard County,' Ball said. He concluded it takes at least $52,000 a year for a family of four to get by in high-cost Howard. Ball said he calculated that if a husband and wife made at least $12.41 an hour, their combined earnings would reach that level."

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