House Republican majority denies Hoosiers chance to voice position on minimum wage

January 21, 2014 John Bartlett

For immediate release:
Jan. 21, 2014

STATEHOUSE – Indiana House Republicans today denied the people of Indiana a chance to voice their support for an increase in the state’s minimum wage, according to State Rep. John Bartlett (D-Indianapolis).

Bartlett said the majority rejected his proposal to give Hoosiers the right to decide whether they supported a one-dollar hike in the minimum wage through a nonbinding referendum that would have been placed on the ballot in each county for the November 2014 general election.

The amendment was offered to House Bill 1126.

Indiana’s minimum wage rate is currently $7.25 per hour. Bartlett’s proposal would have provided a chance to gauge public support for an increase to $8.25 per hour.

“We are currently debating the need to give the voters a chance to decide whether to place a ban on same-sex marriage into our Indiana constitution, and supporters of the move believe the proposal is needed because the public has the right to make its opinion known,” Bartlett said.

“Since we are pursuing that avenue to let the people decide a public policy matter, I believe we should allow the people of Indiana the right to determine legislative action on a proposal I feel is just as important: allowing Hoosiers of all ages the right to say whether they have the right to earn a living wage,” he continued.

“We talk all the time about the need to create jobs, but we need to spend more time talking about improving household incomes in Indiana, because that is where we are truly falling behind,” Bartlett said. “Over the past decade, those household incomes have declined by a greater percentage than 47 other states, and the income of the average Hoosier is more than 10 percent lower than his or her fellow Americans.

“The place to start is by boosting the earning power of Hoosiers, particularly those on lower incomes, and the way to help them is by increasing the state’s minimum wage,” he noted.

“These are the kinds of issues we need to be debating in the Indiana General Assembly, and I find it disappointing that the House majority does not think it’s worth its time and trouble to give the people of our state the opportunity to make their feelings known about a plan that could help them quickly,” Bartlett concluded.