Lawmakers must jettison proposed doubling of minimum wage

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In a sane world, one would feel reassured that Senate Joint Resolution No. 8 would never see the light of day, but we are talking about the Nevada Legislature, where anything can and does happen.

Therefore, we feel obliged to shine a bright light on this cockroach in hopes that it will skitter away into a dark corner and never again emerge.

SJR8, sponsored by Las Vegas arch-liberal Democratic state Sen. Tick Segerblom, would double the minimum wage Nevada businesses would have to pay employees. It would raise the minimum wage from $7.25 for workers with health benefits or $8.25 for those without those benefits to $15 and $16, respectively. Those rates would automatically increase if the federal minimum wage were raised beyond that and would be indexed to rise with the cost of living.

If this monstrosity were to pass, it would destroy jobs, increase unemployment and drive many businesses into bankruptcy.

Segerblom has upped the ante. A year ago he penned an op-ed for the Las Vegas newspaper endorsing President Obama’s call in his 2014 State of the Union speech for raising the minimum wage to $10.10 — an increase of merely 40 percent.

Without a shred of supporting evidence or documentation, Segerblom averred, “The benefits are social as well as economic. Raising incomes of workers to decent levels would strengthen families, stabilize neighborhoods and schools and reduce crime. I believe the time has come for Nevada to take action. As the president has said, ‘You’ve got a choice. You can give America the shaft or you can give it a raise.’”

At about the same time, the Congressional Budget Office reported that as many as 16.5 million American workers were then being paid less than $10.10 an hour. The CBO estimated that if the minimum wage is increased by that much it would cost half a million to a million jobs, cutting those workers’ minimum wage to zero.

The CBO did not estimate how the subsequent increase in the cost of goods and services would hurt those on fixed incomes, such as retirees.

According to the American Enterprise Institute, when the minimum wage rose 41 percent between 2007 and 2009, the jobless rate for 16- to 19-year-olds increased by 10 percentage points, from about 16 percent in 2007 to more than 26 percent in 2009.

Due to inflation, the real purchasing power of the current minimum wage is about the same as it was in the late 1960s, according to Pew Research. Raising the minimum wage may momentarily lift a few above the poverty line, but it will drive others into unemployment and onto welfare, possibly for life.

Now, Segerblom wants to double down with SJR8. Fortunately, the joint resolution sought would have to pass in this legislative session and the next one in 2017 and then go to voters in 2018 before it could take effect.

The harm this bill will do, especially combined with the governor’s huge tax hikes and the imposition of ObamaCare on businesses, is incalculable but obviously astronomical. It would leave many low-skill youthful job seekers facing a lifetime on the dole. Lawmakers should drive a stake through its heart now. — TM

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