Ike Leggett vetoes Montgomery Co.’s $15 minimum wage bill

ROCKVILLE, Md. — Montgomery County Executive Isiah “Ike” Leggett says he will veto the $15-an-hour minimum wage measure passed by the county council last week.

In a memo sent to Montgomery County Council President Roger Berliner he would “reluctantly veto” the bill and return it to the council to work on a “more reasonable path to moving the County to a $15 wage.”

In the memo, Leggett said he supports the effort to move toward a $15 minimum wage “over an appropriate timeframe.”

The county council’s measure would have raised the current minimum wage of $10.75 to $11.50 later this year. It would rise again to $12.50 next year; to $13.75 in 2019 and finally to $15 in 2020.

Earlier Monday, during a briefing with reporters, Berliner told reporters county leaders need to “find a better balance for Montgomery County.”

Berliner is among four council members — including Nancy Floreen, Sidney Katz and Craig Rice — who voted against the measure.

Berliner said Montgomery County is different from other jurisdictions that have enacted a $15 minimum wage.

“I don’t consider us to be equivalent to New York City, I don’t consider us to be equivalent to Los Angeles, I don’t consider us to be equivalent to Seattle. We are not a ‘destination’ community like they are,” he said.

At the same time, refusing to make the jump to a $15 minimum doesn’t mean the county won’t OK more incremental increases, Berliner said. “It isn’t about saying ‘no,'” he said. “It is about finding a better balance that minimizes the damages that can — and will be felt — by our small business community. Nobody can deny that is real.”

A coalition of labor and progressive groups issued a statement Monday night saying in part that “Working families who fear life under the Trump presidency need not wait for the White House to make their lives harder – their own local leaders have already started. By vetoing the $15 minimum wage, which enjoys overwhelming public support, Montgomery County Executive Ike Leggett has chosen to yank back a critical lifeline and leave working families only a payday away from poverty.”

In order to withstand a veto by the county executive, the council would have had to pass the bill by a vote of 6-3; the vote was 5-4.

WTOP’s Jack Moore contributed to this report. 

Like WTOP on Facebook and follow @WTOP on Twitter to engage in conversation about this article and others.

Get breaking news and daily headlines delivered to your email inbox by signing up here.

© 2020 WTOP. All Rights Reserved. This website is not intended for users located within the European Economic Area.

More from WTOP

Log in to your WTOP account for notifications and alerts customized for you.

Sign up