The Advocate: Despite lack of traction, raising minimum wage 'still a priority' for Gov. John Bel Edwards; what's holding him back?

By Elizabeth Crips
The Advocate (Baton Rouge), July 23, 2017. Also in Daily Comet, Houma Courier.

Kenya Harris recalls taking the city bus from classes at Baton Rouge Community College to her minimum wage job at a fast food restaurant off Sherwood Forest across town — changing into her uniform in the restaurant's bathroom each day. ... With two young children at home, Harris quit college and was working two jobs, as a telemarketer in the day and again in fast food in the evenings. "It crippled me as far as time away from my kids," she said.

Harris' story is typical for workers across the state in jobs that pay the $7.25 minimum wage, which ends up being about $15,080 annually for a 40-hour work week, pre-taxes.

Monday is the eighth anniversary of the most recent increase in the federal minimum wage. Louisiana, as one of five states that has no minimum wage, relies on the federal government to set the rate. ...

Last year, LSU's Public Policy Research Lab found that 76 percent of Louisiana residents support increasing the minimum wage....

Camille Moran, state coordinator for Business for a Fair Minimum Wage, is the owner of 4 Seasons Christmas Tree and Produce Farm in Natchitoches, where she pays employees at least $10 an hour.

"I will not start anyone at less than $10, and most of my employees make more than that," she said.

Moran said she thinks it's "shameful" the state Legislature hasn't acted to raise the minimum wage in Louisiana.

"It's not a livable wage," she said. ...

She said she believes paying more has made her staff more productive and increased the quality of her business.

"It helps the economy in the long run," Moran said. ...

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Copyright 2017 The Advocate

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