AUSTIN - Texas lawmakers are discussing a higher state minimum wage after almost 10 bills were filed in the House of Representatives surrounding the topic.
Right now, the state uses the federal minimum wage of $7.25, but these bills look at raising it to $10.10, $15 or giving local governments the choice to pick their own amount.
"It's vital that we get a higher wage," a supporter of the bills told the House Committee on Business and Industry Monday. "The only way possible that I've been able to support my family is finding jobs on the side."
And many are pushing for a higher minimum wage.
"With a minimum wage of $7.25, poverty is a reality for many working Texans," said AFL-CIO Legislative Director Rene Lara.
"It's past time to raise the minimum wage in Texas," said Rep. Ron Reynolds (D-Missouri City), who is proposing a raise to $15 an hour.
"I don't have to tell you that this is a bill for the little dogs," said Rep. Senfronia Thompson (D-Houston). "The little dogs have to pay the same price for food and services as everyone else has to pay."
Thompson's bill would raise the minimum wage to $10.10.
"This is a good first step in the right direction to help Texas families, but its just a first step," said Rep. Chris Turner (D-Arlington). "Our current minimum wage at 7 dollars and 25 cents an hour is nowhere near what it needs to be to reflect the cost of living in our state."
Turner also has a bill proposing the raise to $10.10.
"It's hard to make a living off this," said Joshua Perez, who works at a fast food restaurant in San Marcos.
He told KVUE he earned minimum wage for four years, until he went on strike and got a dollar raise. At minimum wage, he said he didn't have AC, couldn't afford a car, and had to drop out of college because of expenses.
"It's a travesty, these are misery wages," said Perez.
He even started donating plasma to make money.
"I got needle marks from donating plasma all the time, it's permanent," said Perez.
Now he supports the legislation that would give him a raise.
"I am not settling at 10, 15 or higher, cause that's the living wage, it’s not a luxury it’s a living wage," said Perez.
Many businesses already pay their employees higher than minimum wage.
"Do you believe that this bill will cause a significant wave of inflation, and wave in wage inflation?" asked Rep. Hugh Shine (R-Temple) during Monday's committee hearing.
"I don't think so," said Rep. Roberto Alonzo (D-Dallas). "Because what will happen is people will make more money, the money that they spend will bring it back into the economy."
TPPF Economist Vance Ginn said that model, won't work.
"The economy grows from more production, it's not from expending, it's from the production side of the economy,” said Ginn. "In economics we talk about there's no such thing as a free lunch, well there's also no such thing as a free increase in minimum wage."
He told lawmakers raising the minimum wage, would be detrimental to the economy. He predicts one million jobs would be lost in Texas.
"Unfortunately, some may gain if they increase the minimum wage but others are going to lose, right, they'll lose their job entirely," said Ginn.
The committee didn't take any actions on these bills Monday, and will decide what to do at a later date.
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