It’s the first week in June: temperatures are rising, the cicadas are swarming, and many state legislatures are wrapping up their 2013 sessions. This flurry of legislative activity has included several important steps forward on the minimum wage.
The biggest news comes from Connecticut, where last week the legislature passed – and the governor signed – a bill to increase the state minimum wage from $8.25 to $9.00 per hour by January 1, 2015. This compromise measure will give a much-needed raise to minimum wage workers in Connecticut, about six in ten of whom are women. An additional 75 cents per hour amounts to $1,500 a year for full-time work, bringing annual wages up from $16,500 to $18,000. That’s a meaningful boost, but still about $500 short of lifting a family of three above the poverty line, much less what is needed in a high-cost state like Connecticut.
And there is a catch: Connecticut’s new law actually reduces the percentage of the minimum wage that employers must pay to workers who receive tips. Today, tipped workers like restaurant servers are entitled to a minimum cash wage that is 69 percent of Connecticut’s full minimum wage ($5.69 per hour). In 2015, when the regular minimum wage is $9.00 instead of $8.25 per hour, tipped workers will be entitled to a minimum cash wage that is 63.2 percent of the full minimum wage ($5.69 per hour) – that is, they will get no raise at all. While most of Connecticut’s minimum wage workers who will get a raise are women, women are also a majority of the tipped workers who will suffer from this unfair exclusion. Read more »
It’s been a busy few weeks on the minimum wage front, as policymakers in a slew of states have moved to raise wages for low-paid workers. If you follow our blog, you already know that minimum wage increases are on the agenda in Maryland and New York – and you know that this is especially good news for women, who make up the majority of minimum wage workers in those states and across the country.
While a federal minimum wage increase – like the one proposed in the Fair Minimum Wage Act last year – is needed to boost pay for minimum wage and tipped workers throughout the U.S., it’s great to see momentum building at the state level. Here’s a quick run-down of recent developments:
California. A bill pending in the Assembly, AB-10, would increase the minimum wage from $8.00 per hour to $8.25 in 2014, $8.75 in 2015, and $9.25 in 2016, then adjust the wage annually for inflation beginning in 2017.
Connecticut. A bill pending in the Senate, S.B. 387, would raise the minimum wage from $8.25 per hour to $9.00 in July 2013 and $9.75 in July 2014, with annual indexing beginning in July 2015. NWLC’s new fact sheet shows that over 246,000 Connecticut workers would get a raise by 2014 under this proposal – and about six in ten of those workers would be women.
Here in D.C. and across the country, election results consume the headlines, even as many of us breathe a sigh of relief that the long campaign season is over. But in addition to the big-ticket races on Election Day, there were a number of ballot initiatives in cities and states that are less publicized nationally but no less important to the people affected. These include three municipal ballot measures – in Albuquerque, San Jose, and Long Beach – to raise the minimum wage. All three passed with substantial majorities, meaning many low-wage workers in these cities will soon find it a bit easier to make ends meet. Specifically:
In Albuquerque, New Mexico, the minimum wage will rise from $7.50 to $8.50 per hour in January 2013, and will automatically adjust in future years to keep up with inflation. New Mexico Voices for Children estimates that 40,000 workers (one-seventh of Albuquerque’s workforce) will see higher paychecks as a result – generating about $18 million in consumer spending and helping to create new jobs as businesses expand to meet the increased demand.
California has approved a budget that rejects drastic cuts proposed by the governor earlier in the year — but that still includes significant funding reductions for child care and early education programs. Under the final budget signed by the governor, child care and development programs will receive a $130 million cut, which could result in an estimated 26,500 fewer children being able to participate in these programs. The legislature had approved slightly smaller cuts in the budget sent to the governor, but at the last minute, the governor used his line item veto to make additional cuts.
In addition to preventing steeper cuts, the legislature turned back the governor’s earlier proposal to restructure the child care program and transfer administration of the program to county welfare agencies. The state also will not place new limits on child care assistance for parents while they attend education programs.
The approved budget does not provide a previously planned cost of living increase for child care programs. However, it does not reduce reimbursement rates for child care providers as the governor proposed, which would have deprived providers of the resources they need to offer high-quality care. Read more »
Child care and early education issues are gaining increased attention at the federal and state level. Earlier this week, the U.S. Department of Education and Department of Health and Human Services announced that of the $550 million appropriated for the Race to the Top education grant competition in 2012, $133 million will be used for a second round of Early Learning Challenge grants to help states strengthen their early care and education systems. (Five states that just missed out on the first round of funding will be eligible to compete for this latest round.) At the state level, nearly half of the governors mentioned early care and education in their state of the state addresses this year, indicating they recognize that giving children get a strong start helps children, and their states, succeed in the future. Read more »
Working on the issue of Title IX and athletics, the thing I hear most from opponents is that “girls just aren’t that interested in sports.” At NWLC, we believe strongly in the mantra “if you build it they will come.” I know it’s true because I’ve watched my sister do just that at a middle school in California.
When my sister, Sarah Egan, started teaching at Benjamin Franklin Intermediate School in 2009, there were only two girls’ basketball teams with about 20 players between them. The boys’ basketball program, on the other hand, was vibrant, had many teams, and over 70 participants. Basketball was a big part of the culture of Ben Franklin, the students talked about it in the hallways all the time, but girls’ participation numbers were extremely low.
Members of the Benjamin Franklin girls’ basketball program attending a Stanford women’s basketball game. Coach Sarah Egan is pictured on the lower left.
Benjamin Franklin is in Daly City, CA – just south of the San Francisco city line. It’s a predominantly low-income Title I school that is 94% minority. More than half of the kids receive free or reduced lunch. Unlike their suburban counterparts, that many of the girls at Ben Franklin lack the access and confidence garnered through early exposure to team sports. Most had never stepped foot on the court.
“I knew and understood the impact that sports had on my life and knew that it could have the same impact on others. I wanted more girls and I set out to find them,” Sarah said. She spent the majority of the first two seasons recruiting players and demonstrating how to shoot with one hand instead of two, how to make a jump stops, and how to pivot. Her first year coaching, the teams had a 3-13 record. The next year wasn’t any better.
But things have started to turn around.
This year the girls are off to a 6-7 start. Eighty girls showed up for six weeks of mandatory open gym before they even got a chance to try-out for the team. Ben Franklin now has 40 girls playing on four girls’ basketball teams – double what it was only two seasons ago. The program boasts five coaches and an assistant coach – all recruited by Sarah. Read more »
Last week the winners of the first round of the Early Learning Challenge grant competition were announced.
The 9 states selected to receive the grant awards (California, Delaware, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, North Carolina, Ohio, Rhode Island, and Washington) have laid out comprehensive, collaborative strategies to achieve stronger early learning systems that increase low-income children’s access to high-quality early care and education.