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Newport Leaders, Grimes Support Increase in Minimum Wage

Newport's mayor and city manager want to consider a formal stance on the minimum wage issue, they said Monday.

If they vow to support an increase in the federal $7.25 minimum wage, they would be in the company of Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes, who's running for the US Senate seat held by Republican Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.

"The minimum wage has been a topic lately and I don't think that's something the federal government needs to be involved in," said City Manager Tom Fromme. "I think we ought to take a stance on the minimum wage. I think it's something we all need to make a voice of, and have a livable wage for people so it's probably something we'll bring up in a caucus meeting in January."

Mayor Jerry Peluso concurred.

"I think we do need to take a position on minimum wage," Peluso said. "I don't know how people survive making $7.25 an hour. A lot of those people have children. I guess, everyone can't have a college degree and if they did, where would everybody work? I think we need to take a position on that."

Grimes called for an increase in the federal minimum wage on Wednesday.

"Nearly one in four Kentucky workers would benefit from raising the minimum wage, but Mitch McConnell has turned his back on Kentucky's working families by trying to do away with this legislation," Grimes said on Facebook. "Kentuckians deserve wages that are consistent with our values."

Grimes joined US Senators Kirsten Gillibrand, Jeanne Shaheen, and Heidi Heitkamp, and US Representatives Tulsi Gabbard, Sean Patrick Maloney, and Kyrsten Sinema, as well as Congressional candidate Sean Eldridge in signing their names at a website, Increase The Minimum Wage.

Democrats in the US House and Senate are calling for an increase in the minimum wage from $7.25 to $10.10.

According to The Atlantic, the issue of raising the minimum wage is gaining traction at the local government level:

Already, state and municipal governments are at the leading edge of efforts to raise the minimum wage, adopting local minimums significantly above the federal requirements. Last month, voters in SeaTac, Washington – a town notable for its major airport, filled with minimum-wage workers at newsstands and fast-food joints – narrowly approved a huge hike in their minimum wage to $15. And in a more modest move, but one that will affect far more workers, the District of Columbia City Council recently backed an $11.50 minimum wage.Nineteen states have set their minimum wages above the federal level. California, Connecticut, New York, Rhode Island, and New Jersey are set to do the same over the next year or two.

But what should these local minimum wages look like?

According to a study cited in the article, the appropriate minimum wage in the Cincinnati metro area, which would include Northern Kentucky, is somewhere between $11.30 and $15.
Jobs have grown in Newport in recent years. Fromme said the city added 600 new jobs in 2013 and expects to announce more early in 2014, including one deal that will bring in another 175 jobs.
"We're working on a whole lot more announcements about new employers moving into the city and moving forward," Fromme said. "Newport is where everying is happening. Peple want to be here. I think Newport is a leader in Northern Kentucky and throughout the state."
Written by Michael Monks, editor & publisher of The River City News
Photo: A Newport City Commission meeting/RCN file


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