Minimum wage hike for Montgomery Co. under debate

ROCKVILLE, Md. – Families are working harder and falling behind faster. And now a number of politicians across Maryland and in Montgomery County say the minimum wage has to go up.

Tuesday Montgomery County Councilman Roger Berliner sent a letter to County Executive Ike Leggett asking Leggett to share his views on the issue. Leggett supported a bill to increase the state’s minimum wage to more than $10 an hour last year but the legislation died in Annapolis.

This year, Leggett says he continues to support raising the minimum wage. And he’s not alone. All three Democratic candidates for governor – Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown, Attorney General Doug Gansler and Delegate Heather Mizeur – support boosting the minimum wage. But Leggett would consider going even further.

“I believe that there’s a case that could be made for an increase in Montgomery County over and above the rest of the state,” he says.

Montgomery County Councilman Hans Riemer has suggested setting a higher minimum wage in Montgomery County, citing the higher cost of living there. His colleague on the council Berliner, disagrees.

“New York City’s a more expensive place to live than New York state. They don’t have a separate minimum wage,” Berliner says.

But Berliner does say a higher minimum wage is needed.

“We have too many people who are struggling every day at the bottom. They’re working hard and hardly making it,” he says.

Berliner says there is a concern that raising the minimum wage could scare off businesses.

“We’re getting our clocks cleaned,” Gansler has said of competition from Northern Virginia.

But Leggett disagrees saying he believes there’s a perception issue, and that Virginia’s advantages in attracting business are overstated.

“I think that they have done a very good job at selling Virginia in a way that we have not in Maryland,” Leggett says.

WTOP’s Kate Ryan contributed to this report. Follow @kateryanWTOP and @WTOP on Twitter.

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