Gov. Wes Moore: Raising Marylands minimum wage a ‘game changer’ | GUEST COMMENTARY

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Gov. Wes Moore's mother, Joy Moore, attends her son's first State of the State address on Wednesday, Feb. 1. After the death of her husband, Ms. Moore worked multiple jobs to provide for her three children.

When I made the decision to run for governor, I couldn’t help but think about the person who first inspired me to live a life of public service. My mother is an immigrant to this country who arrived here as a child from Jamaica. After the tragic and unexpected death of her husband, she was forced to raise three children as a single mom. She worked multiple jobs — and didn’t get a position with benefits and a stable wage until I was 14 years old. But she kept pushing, and when she finally did get that job, she found a role that didn’t just change the trajectory of her life, it changed the trajectory of our entire family. That job was at the Annie E. Casey Foundation located in Baltimore, Maryland.

With wisdom and grit, my mom was able to lift me and my family to a higher rung on the economic ladder. That was 30 years ago. Today, wisdom and grit often aren’t enough. With prices rising, too many families are struggling to pay the bills. Marylanders of all backgrounds are working harder than ever only to find their bank accounts getting stretched thinner and thinner each month. Folks are struggling to get by, build wealth, and lift themselves and their children out of financial hardship through no fault of their own.


I refuse to accept this status quo. We need to ensure that Marylanders who work hard are rewarded with better pathways to work, wages and wealth. Getting there won’t be easy, and it will take more than just one solution. But as a first step, we need to ensure pay is competitive in our state. That’s why my administration is determined to lift the minimum wage in Maryland to $15 an hour by the start of next year.

This policy isn’t indulgent — it’s necessary. No child should be worried about where their next meal will come from or whether they’ll have a roof over their heads. But that’s the harsh reality for too many Maryland children who have family members working overtime without stability to show for it. Right now, around 126,000 Maryland children live in households where the main breadwinner makes less than $15 an hour. These moms and dads are doing it right and working hard, but they are still barely holding on.


By raising the minimum wage to $15, we can change this equation. My legislation, the Fair Wage Act, will increase wages for approximately 175,000 Maryland workers. Raising the minimum wage is a game-changer both for those who work and those they support. For our children, my legislation could mean the difference between two meals a day and three meals a day — the difference between a mom with three or four jobs and a mom spending weekends with her kids — the difference between struggle and stability.

In crafting this legislation, I made sure that both workers and businesses had a seat at the table. I spoke with labor groups, business advocates and hardworking Marylanders. Our bill has been endorsed by big companies and small businesses — from the gas and electric powerhouse Baltimore Gas and Electric to Well-Paid Maids, a small cleaning service in the capital region that pays employees living wages. They know, like I know, that raising wages doesn’t just benefit employees, it benefits employers too.

My proposal ensures that everybody wins. Raising the minimum wage will help our state attract and retain top-notch talent, especially as red states and blue states alike start boosting wages. Raising the minimum wage will help grow the economy, with an additional $187 million in circulation every year because of higher pay. And raising the minimum wage will support working women, people of color and young people — who fill the majority of minimum wage jobs in our state.

I brought the Fair Wage Act to the Maryland General Assembly during my second full week as governor. Since then, our proposal has gained popularity. Seven in 10 Marylanders want our state to get this done. These supporters know we can be a state that lifts both workers and businesses. The critics who say it’s one or the other are offering a false choice. I learned the truth of this false choice when I watched my mother dig deep and win a job that helped her employer improve their organization, changed my mother’s life forever and permanently altered the trajectory of her children. Our nation is learning the truth of this false choice today, as more states raise wages with little to no effect on unemployment — including red states like South Dakota and Ohio, and blue states like New York. And now as Maryland’s governor, I’ve crafted a legislative agenda that rejects this false choice.

I am doing everything in my power to keep my promise to the people of our state and raise the minimum wage in Maryland to $15 an hour. I am ready to sign the Fair Wage Act into law, and I urge the Maryland General Assembly to pass our bill and bring it to my desk without delay.

Wes Moore is the governor of Maryland. He can be reached at