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Bill Would Raise Minimum Wage To $8 An Hour

February 5, 2012, 9:40 PM by Hailey Higgins

Bill Would Raise Minimum Wage To $8 An Hour
SIOUX FALLS, SD - The lowest paid workers in South Dakota could get a raise if a bill is successful this legislative session. 

Monday morning lawmakers will discuss raising the minimum wage to $8 an hour.

At this weekend's Legislative Coffee in Sioux Falls, local lawmakers answered questions about plenty of issues facing South Dakotans. That includes Representative Patrick Kirshman's bill to raise the state's minimum wage from $7.25.

"This will help a lot of people," Kirshman said.

The bill is making its way through the legislature and would ensure the minimum wage of $8. Provisions within the bill would allow for the wage to be adjusted annually based on the consumer price index.

"If it goes up two percent, the wages for the minimum wage would go up two percent, so it just depends on where inflation is so it keeps up with inflation," Kirshman said.

And while the annual adjustment would be a few pennies or dimes each year, Kirshman says it would keep low wage workers from leaving the state, especially in rural areas.

"I think that having a living wage would create more quality of life and allow people to make sure they are more secure in keeping a roof over their kid's head and food on the table," Senator Angie Buhl said.

Critics against raising the minimum wage to $8 an hour argue it would hurt small businesses who cannot afford to pay the higher rate.

"If they have problems paying $8 an hour, they probably have bigger problems than just the wages. Eight dollars an hour is not a lot," Kirshman said.

"Workers and small businesses have just as much a need for quality of life and a standard of living as workers working for larger businesses and big corporations. I understand those concerns of small businesses, but at the same time, I also understand the need for families and working people," Buhl said.

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