The minimum wage in Iowa is going up. On Thursday afternoon, Governor Chet Culver is scheduled to sign a bill into law that raises the minimum wage in Iowa to $6.20 cents an hour on April 1st.
The Iowa Senate gave the bill final legislative approval Wednesday night, and Senator Tom Courtney, a Democrat from Burlington, said it’s about time. "I’ve waited a long time for this and Iowa’s working poor have waited a long time as well," Courtney said.
The Iowa Senate debated the issue for three hours before the bill passed on a 40-8 vote, and Courtney was impatient. "I don’t think the working poor of Iowa need a long speech," Courtney told his colleagues in the senate. "I think they need a raise."
Senate Democratic Leader Mike Gronstal of Council Bluffs called it a "decent increase" for "decent Iowans."
"I’m going to stand up for well over 100,000 Iowans (who) are currently working for minimum wage and have been waiting nine long years to see an increase — the longest wait for an increase in the minimum wage…in the history of the minimum wage in this country," Gronstal said.
Senator Paul McKinley, a Republican from Chariton, argued Iowa’s minimum wage should match the national rate, which congress is poised to raise. "I’m here to tell you that if this minimum wage passes, higher again than the federal minimum wage, it is but yet another nail in rural Iowa’s economic development coffin," McKinley said.
Senator David Hartsuch, a Republican from Bettendorf, warned that minorities will be among the losers if the minimum wage goes up. "It will result in the immediate loss of jobs," Hartsuch said.
Senator Brad Zaun, a Republican from Urbandale, said the hike in the minimum wage will put a real financial pinch on small businesses. "What I believe in is market-driven busines policies," Zaun said. "We’re sending a message to a lot of businesses that I don’t think is a very welcome message to come in, expand and do business in the state of Iowa."
The bill that Governor Culver will sign this afternoon raises the minimum wage twice — first, on April 1st, 2007 to $6.20 an hour and then, on January 1st, 2008 to $7.25 an hour.