The Massachusetts Senate passed a bill Tuesday that raises the minimum wage to $11 per hour by 2016 and ties future increases to inflation.
The state’s minimum wage has not been raised since 2008. Supporters argue an increase is past due.
State Sen. Dan Wolf, a Harwich Democrat, is a co-sponsor of the bill. He says the current minimum wage — $8 an hour — is too low.
“Hardworking people, working full time, paid our present minimum wage of $16,000 are living in poverty," Wolf said. "That’s the reality.”
Senate minority leader Bruce Tarr says Republicans agree the minimum wage should go up. But he says it should be done as part of a package that also provides relief to employers.
“This is not for us a debate about whether or not to visit and change the minimum wage," Tarr said. "This, in fact, is a discussion about how to do that in the most appropriate way, and in the context of other tools we might have.”
The bill now goes to the the House, where Speaker Robert DeLeo has said he hopes to combine it with changes to unemployment insurance.