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                                          Senator Bob Cassilly

                                                    District 34, Harford County

Minimum Wage Debate in Baltimore City

Originally published on August 13, 2016

The General Assembly spent a significant part of the 2016 session working on problems concerning youth in Baltimore City. Much of the discussion was about bringing economic opportunity to a city where the real unemployment rate among young black males approaches 50%. Clearly we cannot afford to write off an entire segment of society to lives spent on government programs, on the streets, or in prison. Young people need the option to pursue entry-level jobs that offer a chance to cultivate basic, real-world skills that will enable long-term personal and professional development.

Governor Hogan and the General Assembly responded to these concerns by funding new job development initiatives. The Governor also championed efforts in Baltimore and across the State to remove barriers to those employers willing to offer young people a chance to develop marketable job skills and begin their pursuit of the American dream.

Under the circumstances, Maryland taxpayers should be able to expect that Baltimore City, the primary target of these job building initiatives, will support these taxpayer investments by standing behind those companies willing to undertake the enormous risk and considerable burden of bringing often poorly educated and undisciplined young people onto their payroll. Unfortunately, it appears that some members of the City Council want to saddle state taxpayers’ outlays for City youth with yet another tried-and-failed, big government approach – an increase of the minimum wage to $15.00. It is simply astounding that the City would even consider imposing what amounts to a penalty of about $5.00 per hour on employers willing to employ and train Baltimore’s youth.

An increase in the minimum wage to $15.00 will force companies, and at least 25% of the skill developing jobs, to leave the City, and the least employable among the young will, once again, lose out. The only sure winners in this scheme would be the City lobbyists, who would return to Annapolis next year looking for more state taxpayer funds to prop up this failed policy, and those politicians who are more interested in showing their support for an unrealistic, out-of-touch national-level progressive agenda than in finding practical, effective solutions for the plight of Baltimore’s unemployed youth.