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ANNAPOLIS — The Maryland General Assembly’s override of Governor Larry Hogan’s vetoes on several state bills, including the $15 minimum wage bill, on March 29 was received with mixed reactions.
In addition to the $15 minimum wage legislation, the General Assembly issued an override of Hogan’s veto on the Community Control of School Calendars Act, which would allow school systems to choose to start school before Labor Day, and the Alcohol and Tobacco Commission bill, which makes changes to the production, sampling and sale of beer by a Class 5 brewery.
“In Congress, House Democrats are taking action to raise the federal minimum wage,” said U.S. Congressman Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) who commended the General Assembly on their override of the minimum wage bill. “I’m proud that we can look to Maryland as a model for improving the lives of families and ensuring they can make it in America.”
In his his veto letter to the Maryland House of Delegates and Senate, Hogan cited the loss of jobs in Maryland due to the increased cost to employers, a total of 99,000 jobs, and the resulting loss of competitiveness in Maryland’s job market where small businesses will begin to leave the state for a state with a less expensive wage as reasons for his veto.
“During the time I’ve been governor, Maryland’s minimum wage has increased four years in a row by nearly 40 percent to $10.10, which is by far the highest in the region and one of the highest in the nation,” Hogan said in the letter. “If the minimum wage increases to $15 per hour, small businesses would be facing a 48 percent increase in costs, which would make Maryland a more expensive place to do business.”
The Fight For $15 Coalition has been instrumental in advocating for a $15 minimum wage, showing up at General Assembly hearings to testify and holding a protest of Hogan’s $12.10 compromise in early March.
“As a high cost of living state, there is no place in Maryland where a single full-time working adult can pay for basic needs on less than $15 per hour today,” said Fight For $15 Coalition leader Ricarra Jones. “The state’s current $10.10 minimum wage isn’t working for Maryland households, and the governor’s proposal does nothing to change their fate.”
Hoyer, who represents Prince George’s County in District 5, has also been vocal in his support of the $15 minimum wage up to this point and said it is “an important step to raise wages and expand opportunity for workers throughout our state.”
“In Congress, House Democrats are taking action to raise the federal minimum wage,” Hoyer said. “I’m proud that we can look to Maryland as a model for improving the lives of families and ensuring they can make it in America. I will continue to work with my colleagues to ensure more individuals have access to the resources they need to succeed.”
“This will send Maryland in the wrong direction,” National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) Maryland State Director Mike O’Halloran said. “By the proponent’s admission, this bill will cause pain in the small business community. There’s a misconception by many about who makes the minimum wage and who pays the minimum wage. These jobs are vital to our economy, and they are a way for workers to enter the job market, learn necessary soft skills, customer relations and responsibility.”
Additionally, Hogan called the Community Control of School Calendars Act and the Alcohol and Tobacco Commission bill “politically motivated.”
“This unfortunate legislation unravels years of bipartisan work and study by seeking to reverse the post-Labor Day school start for public schools,” he said in his veto letter for this bill. “Instead, Senate Bill 128 runs directly counter to an action favored by the vast majority of Marylanders.”
PGCPS Interim CEO Monica Goldson agreed with the decision of the General Assembly and felt that giving the authority to decide when to start school back to those who run each individual school system was the best approach.
“While we understand the benefits of starting the school year after Labor Day, the constraints posed by this mandate severely limit our ability to meet our unique needs,” the Interim CEO said. “Returning the decision-making process to those who know their population best will help address summer learning loss, teacher training needs and protect long-established religious holidays and breaks.”
The matter was discussed during a Prince George’s County Public Schools Board of Education meeting in late February. Goldson said at the time that regardless of what the General Assembly decided, the opening of school date for the upcoming school year should remain the same so as not to interrupt improvements already scheduled for the summer.
“We have already begun planning for the 2019-2020 school year and expect to use those summer months for many of our summer major capital program projects,” she said. “So to now change those dates would not be recommended.”