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Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer Would Veto a Minimum Wage Increase to $10.10

Minimum wage increase supporters at a recent Metro Council meeting.
Minimum wage increase supporters at a recent Metro Council meeting.

Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer would veto a minimum wage increase to $10.10 an hour if the Metro Council approves the proposal.

On Monday, the council's Labor and Economic Development Committee approved the minimum wage increase from the current rate of $7.25 an hour to $10.10 an hour by 2017 in a 3-2 vote.

Hours after the vote, Fischer said he was concerned about potential job losses and wouldn't support the plan to gradually increase the minimum wage to $10.10 per hour in Louisville.

“I am most concerned about manufacturing businesses that have a high cost of labor as part of their total business expenses—and I do not want to see the wage increase lead to a loss of jobs for the very people we want to help,” Fischer said in a released statement.

In the statement, Fischer said a rate of around $8.50 to $8.75 an hour “appears to be an area where local job loss would be minimized and many people would still benefit from the increase.”

The full Metro Council is expected to consider the proposal on Thursday.

Council President Jim King, a Democrat, said the council would not likely be able to overturn the mayor's veto.

King said he expects to see amendments at Thursday’s meeting
to lower the maximum increase to around $8.50 an hour.

During Monday's meeting, Councilman Ken Fleming, a Republican from District 6, again called for an amendment that would have slowed the push to raise the minimum wage.

His amendment failed, but he said he plans on offering it again on
Thursday. He said he is looking to "seek assistance from the the
University of Louisville Urban Studies Institute to study what impacts
the passage of a local minimum wage ordinance of $10.10 will have on
the people of the metro area."

"If we don't understand what the total cost it's going to have on the
community, we might as well go to a shooting range blindfolded and let
the bullets shoot us, because I tell you what, we are going to get
hit," he said.

He said he wants "total understanding" of the costs associated with raising the minimum wage.

At a Labor and Economic Development committee meeting two weeks ago,
Fleming requested an audit of a financial impact study to assess the
costs the city would incur if the ordinance passed.

The financial impact to Metro Government would be about $574,700,
according to Steve Rowland, the city's chief financial officer.

But this study only looked at city services, like Metro Parks and the
Louisville Zoo. Fleming said because of that, the complete impact of
raising the minimum wage has yet to be seen.

"We just got to know what's going on," he said. "I'm just trying to
look at the best possible scenario to move this community forward and
right now, there have been many nails in the coffin of Louisville,
this is another nail in the coffin in terms of economic prosperity and we need to start thinking in another way."

In Monday's Labor and Economic Development Committee vote, council members Attica Scott, Marianne Butler and David Tandy supported the proposal. Council members Stuart Benson and Fleming voted against it.

The ordinance was introduced in September and has since gained nine
co-sponsors, all Democrats.

Jacob Ryan is the managing editor of the Kentucky Center for Investigative reporting. He's an award-winning investigative reporter who joined LPM in 2014. Email Jacob at jryan@lpm.org.