Bills would raise Virginia minimum wage to $15 per hour

Posted at 3:35 PM, Feb 05, 2020
and last updated 2020-02-05 17:21:45-05

NORFOLK, Va. - Proposals before the General Assembly would eventually raise the minimum wage to $15 per hour in Virginia.

On Wednesday, the Senate Finance and Appropriations Committee voted to advance a bill that would gradually raise the minimum wage to $15 by 2026. A version of the bill on the House side moves quicker, requiring the minimum wage to be $15 by 2024.

Senators representing more rural areas cautioned raising the minimum wage would deal a negative blow to the business community. "If you double the minimum wage, the world is going to change in Southside Virginia. It's going to change in central Virginia. It's going to change in southwest Virginia. It's going to cripple," said Sen. Stephen Newman (R-Lynchburg).

Sen. Dick Saslaw (D-Fairfax) said some lawmakers would never be on-board with any increases. "It's not going to be the end of the world. Western civilization will still be here," he said.

Right now, the minimum wage in Virginia is $7.25. It hasn't changed in more then a decade and matches the federal minimum wage.

Samira Brooks is a home healthcare worker on the Eastern Shore. She makes $9.10 an hour and says it's not easy making ends meet. "As you know that doesn't add up to a lot once taxes hit," Brooks told News 3.

She's hoping the General Assembly will vote to raise the wage. "It's just the pay isn't sufficient for a living. It's just not sufficient," he said.

The full Senate will take up the bill next.