Governor John Bel Edwards is once again asking lawmakers to increase the state’s minimum wage and guarantee equal pay for equal work. Both measures failed in last year’s session. Political analyst Clancy Dubos says raising the minimum wage is never easy.
“The fact that he’s trying to raise it only a little bit to $8.50, as opposed to $10 or more, may make it easier somewhat, but I still think he faces an uphill battle,” Dubos said.
Edwards says he supports a Senate bill that raises the minimum wage to $8.50 over a two year period. The Louisiana Workforce Commission says the minimum wage has not been increased since 2009. Fellow political analyst Bernie Pinsonat he doesn’t foresee these bills getting any more traction this year than they have in the past.
“These bills are doomed to fail because they can’t get them out of the committees in the House, which are basically controlled by Republicans, and Republicans don’t want to pass these bills and don’t like them,” Pinsonat said.
The governor says Louisiana has the highest gender wage gap in the country, but Pinsonat says the equal pay bill has even less of a chance than raising the minimum wage. He says business groups have historically opposed these measures because provisions in the bills allow people to sue their employers over pay inequity.
“That gets into the business arena of lawsuits, and a lot of the business community is really opposed to that cause it’s not so much about equal pay as it is about the additional lawsuits it would cause,” Pinsonat said.