ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP/WUSA9) - The Maryland General Assembly has approved incremental increases to the minimum wage over several years.
The House of Delegates voted 87-47 Monday to give final approval to increasing the minimum wage from $7.25 an hour to $8 in January.
It would rise to $8.25 in July 2015; $8.75 in July 2016; $9.25 in July 2017 and $10.10 in July 2018.
The vote sends the bill to Democratic Gov. Martin O'Malley, who made the measure a priority this legislative session.
Supporters say the increase will provide more money for people to spend to help boost the economy. But opponents contend it will hurt businesses and lead to job losses.
The measure includes a provision to keep the salaries of community service providers who work with the developmentally disabled above minimum wage.
Governor O'Malley released the following statement to the media:
"My central focus as Governor of Maryland has been to to strengthen and grow the ranks of our ever more diverse and upwardly mobile middle class. That's why we invested record amounts in our #1-ranked public schools, why we did more than any other state in the nation to hold down the cost of college, why we expanded the Earned Income Tax Credit, why we chose to invest more in putting people to work rebuilding our transportation infrastructure, and why we are the only state in the nation that's passed a living wage law.
"This year, we are building on this record of strengthening the middle class by raising Maryland's minimum wage to $10.10. We worked hard to bring people together and forge the consensus necessary to make this important progress possible. I commend the General Assembly for giving so many Maryland families the raise they deserve."
President Barack Obama released a statement on the minimum wage vote as well:
"The Maryland Legislature did the right thing for its workers today by increasing the state minimum wage to $10.10 an hour. Maryland's important action is a reminder that many states, cities and counties – as well as a majority of the American people – are way ahead of Washington on this crucial issue. I applaud Governor O'Malley and the state legislature for leading by example and giving more Maryland workers the raise they deserve. But there's only one group who can get the job done for the entire country – that's Congress. They should follow Maryland's lead and lift wages for 28 million Americans by passing legislation to increase the federal minimum wage to $10.10, helping to ensure that no American who works full time has to raise a family in poverty, and that every American who works hard has the opportunity to succeed."