The Montgomery County Chamber of Commerce, as the voice of Montgomery County business, opposes SB 716 to incrementally increase the hourly minimum wage from $7.25 to $9.75 by July 1, 2013, and indexing the wage rate to the CPI every year thereafter. The bill likewise applies the overtime wage to a new group of workers and reduces by half the tip credit for restaurants.
Creating artificial, upward pressure on wage rates is risky at a time when our economic recovery is fragile. It is particularly harmful to small businesses which have the least ability to absorb increased overhead. The extent to which jobs are lost or job creation is delayed will have the greatest impact on the least skilled workers with the fewest options. Increasing the minimum wage not only affects those earning this lowest wage rate, but also creates pressure to raise the next highest wage scales.
There is no justification to impose a wage rate that is 35% higher than the federal minimum wage. SB 716 merely represents another example of Maryland establishing itself as an outlier with regard to the cost of doing business.
Increasing the cost of business operations by artificially increasing wages is likely one of the last things Maryland should be contemplated during this "jobless recovery." For these reasons, we respectfully request an unfavorable report on SB 716.