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Should Maryland raise its hourly minimum wage to $15? Here's what readers had to say.

Raising Maryland’s minimum wage to $15 an hour is again one of the key issues in this year’s legislative session. With Democrats pushing for the raise and Gov. Hogan questioning it, we wanted to ask our readers their thoughts on the issue. Here’s what they had to say. Responses have been edited for clarity.

Add your voice: Should Maryland raise its hourly minimum wage to $15? »

Some hourly workers say it’s not enough, some say it’s not the right solution

I think it should be raised if not to 15 at least to 13.75. It's hard to support a family on minimum wage. I get no help from the state and I make 10.75 an hour as a manager with five kids. With bills — especially the cost of rent and electric — it's hard to even provide a decent meal at the end of the day (decent my kids eat every day). It would impact me and my kids very much as it would allow meals to be provided more easily and bills to be covered. Not to mention maybe at the end of the week I could give the businesses in our area a little extra, meaning we could do something outside the house as a family because we can't afford to cover all of our bills at the moment. — Denise Sampson, Cambridge

I hold a minimum wage job and while I would love to make more I think raising the minimum wage is like putting a new roof on a house to stop the basement from flooding. To pay employees more means the business has to raise the cost of what they sell. With the cost of products raised the money you earn is devaluated and the wage earner is still poor. Perhaps setting a maximum price on products sold would be more logical. Make the things we purchase more reasonable and money we earn would go further. — Kay Socks, Halfway

I believe the minimum wage should be raised. It’s hard to live on what we make in our area and hard working Americans shouldn’t be struggling just because we do a job that might not be considered a “career”. We still work just as hard. With this said it won’t do much if the price of living keeps going up. — Heather Cosner, Oakland

Yes! The rate should be higher. There are too many people who want to learn and at the same time work for a decent wage. I'm struggling now and I always have. It's hard keeping up with water bills, BGE, car insurance, gas and food. I can't tell you how many nights my husband and I have nothing to eat. My husband and I have a garnishment that takes $125.00 a week out because we couldn't pay the rent at a apartment complex we lived in. We are not trying to get away with, we just don't have enough. Plus we owe the state government money for taxes. Disability does not take taxes and there is never enough to pay that. Don't we deserve to have a life? — Tamara Watkins, Baltimore

Yes! It should absolutely be raised to $15 per hour. I work for the current minimum wage. I cannot afford rent or groceries and basic necessities. I am an expectant first-time mom who is eight months pregnant and I know I will not be able to afford child care and still work for minimum wage as the cost of child care exceeds my income. — Heather Berry, Derwood

Between a rock and a hard place

This is definitely an example of being between a rock and hard place as I can see both sides. I commend Gov. Larry Hogan for giving it considerable thought. I don't doubt he wants to raise it. Perhaps, it could be phased in while simultaneously giving small business owners incentives that will enable them to adopt and work toward increasing wages for their employees. Like our residents are experiencing, expenses for small business continue to increase while gross revenues either are the same or decrease. Reward those small businesses who do increase their employees' wages with something tangible that will help their businesses and not hurt them. — P. Wallace, Hagerstown

While I think that there is a need for better pay rate, I also feel like, if it will do more harm to the economy with businesses not being able to handle a minimum raise increase, then we all still lose as unemployment rates still would continue to increase. Although, I do believe that we should have a fair minimum wage, so that families, like mine, a single, divorced mother of eight can at least pay utilities, rent and eat and not choose from month to month which to neglect. — Tammie Garrett-Edwards, Baltimore

I would hope it helps with living expenses but if companies start laying off employees to save for the difference you go from just making it to not making it all if you should be the one unfortunate to get laid off ...clearly something needs to be done. Lower taxes taken out of checks, give cost-of-living raise. Something does need to be done for sure but protect employees from layoffs too as a result. I am on the fence with this one, however, could always use more money to help with the increase for sure. — Kimberly Walbridge, Laurel

Business owners weigh in

Absolutely the minimum wage should be raised to $15. There is no possible way Marylanders will get out of poverty at the current wage now. When you annualized the current wage to what the new annual will be, that is almost an additional $10K. Having another $10K for a family can potentially help change their diet to eating more healthy (or even put food on the table) foods, allow them to get those pair of glasses for their child, maybe pay for tutoring for the child struggling in school, or maybe even allow the family the opportunity to go to a movie together. As a small business owner, I understand the importance of paying employees a fair and equitable compensation and $15 fulfills that commitment. In addition, the new rate may help businesses retain employees and not lose them to competitors paying higher salaries. Finally, a higher wage that puts additional dollars in our workers pockets makes for a happier workplace, home, and community in our beloved state of Maryland. — Tracy Douglas-Wheeler, Gaithersburg

Minimum wage jobs are not supposed to support families. They are jobs for entry-level workers to learn skills and work ethic so they can advance themselves and make higher wages. The jobs also attract retirees that want to supplement their retirement, or simply want to have something to do with their extra time and earn some extra cash while they are keeping busy. There are many jobs out there that are not meant to be "careers". That is where the minimum wage jobs fall. I own a small business in Southern Maryland. I just expanded from one location to three locations in the last two years. I have 26 employees that would get pay raises under this proposed bill. It would cost my business more than $10,000 a month to raise every employee to $15/hr. I would have to restructure my workforce and reduce the number of employees. I would have no choice. If possible I would definitely look into moving at least one of my locations to Virginia. If this happens, I can assure you that MANY jobs would be lost across the state. Small businesses can only bear so much load. — Ed Bolton, Southern Md.

Absolutely not. Raising it to $15 will cause one of three things for sure A. More automated services similar to self check out (cut hours and jobs) B. People moving their business out of the state C. Small businesses just simply shutting the door. I am a small business owner. I own a restaurant my biggest cost is already personnel. If I were then forced to have to turn and pay people $15 an hour for a super simple job I would either do option B or C as stated above. Finding ways to cut costs to make life more affordable and cutting useless over the top taxes would bring more jobs and make people work. Also how about we train people for useful jobs or require stricter requirements to get welfare benefits — we all know people you abuse the system. It’s meant to be a stepping stool not a crutch. — Josh Slone, Oakland

How this will affect Maryland’s economy

It should not be raised to $15 per hour. Minimum wage jobs would hurt small family businesses. I think people erroneously believe that a minimum wage job is intended to feed a family. It is not. It is an entry level position that can lead to a job with more responsibility. Think about it: Should we be forced to pay inexperienced high school or college kids $15 per hour to dip ice cream? How could small businesses afford that? — Chris Rosenthal, Edgewater

Absolutely yes. Virginia is $7.25 ... let’s encourage them to do better. Places that have already moved toward $15/hour have not suffered job loss according to a Washington Post article a few months ago. Someone else always pays less and we do not need a race to the bottom. Using the governor’s logic, we should lower the minimum wage to $6 per hour to draw business from Virginia. We compete with China where they pay less per day than we pay per hour but do OK anyway. This will be a test to see if this Republican governor can really put workers first. Republicans almost always support business first so it would be a huge surprise if he came down on the right side of this. And yes, it can be phased in and pegged to inflation. — Gary Walker, Baltimore

This could help families on the surface but let’s be honest. If the minimum wage is raised to $15/hour then all costs will rise. As consumers we'll have to pay for the increase. Which will in turn hurt the very people it was meant to help. Cost of living in the DMV is already very expensive. And those will go up with a wage increase of this magnitude. HOA fees will go up, service-based businesses will be forced to pass on the costs to the consumers. And this will result in no real increase as costs rise. It will just balance out and people will be right back where they started at $10.10. They'll feel no difference after costs rise. What would benefit people most is education of opportunities to better oneself. Educating the impoverished to the great opportunities offered will better a person’s life. Old bible quote about giving a man a fish vs. teaching how to fish. These younger generations think they can work high-school type jobs (minimum wage) and make a living. When the trade industry is down from the lack of new people flowing into different trades. $15 won't solve or help the problem. Education of the resources available will. Which requires more work on our part as a community. Throwing $15 at the problem (younger generation) won't help them in the least. Thank you. — Chris S, Greenbelt

Yes. The raise will reduce the amount we all have to pay to subsidize people who are not being paid a living wage. It will probably boost people's sense of being a viable and contributing part of society. It would increase income tax revenue which could help fund education costs for everyone. Businesses will be able to try and draw in better workers, even from other states. It is worth a try. But at the very least, minimum wage should go up to $13. — Elizabeth Baer, Saint Michaels

I think the Governor is correct $15.00 will scare away businesses. What's wrong with $11.00 for now? — Frank Brown, Millersville

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