Democrats in the Iowa Legislature are pressing for a one-dollar-an-hour increase in the minimum wage. Senator Matt McCoy, a Democrat from Des Moines, says today’s rate of five-dollars-and-15 cents an hour was set in 1997. “On January 17th of this year, Maryland became the 18th state in the country to raise the minimum wage to $6.15 an hour,” McCoy says. “We’re here today to ask Iowa to do the same.” McCoy says if minimum-wage earners have their pay hike it may help ease the strain on state programs that provide heating assistance and health insurance to the needy. McCoy says people who are working minimum-wage jobs still can’t provide their families with the basic necessities of life.

Representative Todd Taylor, a Democrat from Cedar Rapids, says for somebody working a 40-hour week, that would amount to a two-thousand dollar raise in their annual pay. “We’d like to see this proposal move forward because we want to reward hard work and responsibility with a fair wage,” Taylor says.

But Republican leaders in the legislature say they’re not interested in raising the minimum wage, so the proposal will not be debated. Senate Co-Leader Stewart Iverson, a Republican from Clarion, says it’s a national issue. Iverson says otherwise the rate will vary widely from state to state. “I will also say that the minimum wage was never intended to be a living wage,” Iverson says. “It’s more of a starting wage.”