Stakes high in Ky. as legislators consider raising minimum wage

FRANKFORT, Ky. (WKYT) The stakes are very high for the businesses that stand to lose and the people who stand to gain if Kentucky's minimum wage is raised.

“For them it's a matter of being able to place food on the table, clothes on their children's back, heat so they won't freeze during the winter time," said Kentucky House Speaker Greg Stumbo.

"If made law, it will bankrupt our company. We will be out of business and 2,000 Kentucky employees will lose their jobs," said Lee Greer, the president of the casual food chain Cheddar’s.

The state’s minimum wage has been set at $7.25 since 2009. House Bill 1 would raise minimum wage three dollars over the next three years to $10.10.

Stumbo says it’s time for the state to adjust for the cost of living and invest in the struggling lower and middle class.

He says close to 400,000 Kentuckians make less than $10.10 an hour; of that number most are women.

While Stumbo says hiking minimum wage would give them a hand up, Greer sees it differently.

He says if the minimum wage is raised they will have to up their prices and will eventually be forced out of business.

Tim Couch, the state representative for House District 90, says a wage increase would also hurt his business because it comes with additional federal taxes.

"I'm going to lose two people because I can't afford to do it. So right now I'm at 19, when this passes I'll be down to 15. It is really going to be tough," he said.

The committee passed House Bill 1 on to the full House. Legislators say the earliest we could see a vote on the bill would be Tuesday.

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