Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin Signs Anti-Minimum Wage Bill, Which Is Just Sort Of Petty
Less than one week after several lawmakers across the U.S. signed up for the "minimum wage challenge" in honor of National Week of Action, Republican Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin has signed a bill into law banning minimum wage hikes and paid sick leave. The bill comes soon after activists in Oklahoma City pushed an initiative to pass a minimum wage of $10.10 per hour, which is why the bill's opponents have claimed that Fallin signed it — in order to quell their efforts.
By signing the bill, Fallin was able to prevent Oklahoma cities from establishing their own individual minimum wage laws, which will keep the state's minimum wage at $7.25 per hour — the same as the federal minimum. It will also prevent cities from implementing their individual sick leave or vacation day requirements.
Fallin released a statement about the bill, also known as Senate Bill 1023.
Senate Bill 1023 protects our economy from bad public policy that would destroy Oklahoma jobs. Mandating a minimum wage increase at the local level would drive businesses to other communities and states, and would raise prices for consumers.
The statement goes on to say that "most minimum-wage workers are young, single people working part-time or entry-level jobs," in particular "high school or college students living with their parents in middle-class families." Based on this, increasing the minimum wage would apparently lead business to get rid of these part-time workers and "stifle job creation and increase costs for consumers."
Despite Fallin's claims, studies show that 88 percent of minimum-wage earners are over 20, with 36 percent over age 40, 28 percent with children, and 55 percent with full-time jobs. The average age of the minimum-wage earner is 35 — far from the picture of the high school or college-age young adult that the statement presents.
The Central Oklahoma Labor Federation and attorney David Slaine, who were the people behind the Oklahoma City minimum wage increase initiative, have responded negatively to Senate Bill 1023 (as you might expect). Slaine expressed disappointment that the bill had taken away "the right of the people to decide minimum wage," and emphasized that the activists behind the initiative would continue collecting signatures, with a goal of having 4,000 by the end of April.