On Monday, the Virginia Senate voted down legislation that would have hiked the Commonwealth’s legally-mandated minimum wage to $15 an hour. In a 21-19 party-line vote, the Republican-led upper chamber fought off what is just one of many progressive economic measures supported by the Democratic caucus and Governor Ralph Northam (D).

S.B. 1200, introduced by Senator Rosalyn Dance (D-Petersburg), would have increased the minimum wage from the current federally-mandated amount of $7.25 per hour to $10 per hour, effective July 1, 2019. Afterwards, Virginia’s minimum wage would increase to $13 per hour on the same day in 2020, then to $15 per hour in 2021.

The minimum wage would stay at $15 unless a higher wage is required under the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). The last time the federal government raised the minimum wage was in 2009, bringing it to its current level of $7.25 per hour.

According to the bill’s impact statement, the increase would affect approximately 286 salaried employees within the state government, leading to an expenditure of $576,930. In 2020, it would affect approximately 3,186 employees, with an expenditure of $9.4 million. The following year, around 6,942 salaried employees would see raises in paychecks and have an impact on the state government of $19.6 million. All estimates are based on current employees and salaries, and do not factor in targeted salary increases, or potential expansions of government agencies.

With the legislation dead in the Senate, there is a minimum wage increase bill still in the Commerce and Labor Committee in the House of Delegates. H.B. 1850 is patroned by delegates Marcus Simon (D-Falls Church), Lamont Bagby (D-Henrico), Karrie Delaney (D-Fairfax), Elizabeth Guzman (D-Prince William), Kaye Kory (D-Fairfax), Paul Krizek (D-Alexandria), Mark Levine (D-Alexandria), Alfonso Lopez (D-Arlington), Kenneth Plum (D-Reston), Sam Rasoul (D-Roanoke), Debra Rodman (D-Henrico), and Danica Roem (D-Manassas).

The bill would raise the state minimum wage to $10.10 an hour, adjusting it every two years contingent on the Consumer Price Index (CPI) beginning in 2020.

(Photo by Waldo Jaquith CC BY-SA 2.0)