Texas Workers Rally for Minimum Wage Increase

AUSTIN, Texas -- Low wage workers are fighting for Texas to increase its minimum wage.

Lawmakers have filed eight bills this session to try to boost the hourly minimum - including increasing it to about $10 or even $15 an hour.

The minimum wage in Texas is $7.25 an hour.

Repeated efforts to raise it - have so far -- fallen flat.

But Texas Democrats are once again trying to give low-wage workers a pay raise.

"We're not asking for a hand out; we're asking for a hand up," said Rep. Senfronia Thompson, D-Houston.

Thompson publicly pushed her bill before laying it out in a House committee Monday. It would incrementally raise the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour by 2022.

"We're asking for those families to be compensated to an extent that they're able to support themselves and they don't have to totally rely on the assistance of the public through food stamps and other things of that nature," said Thompson.

Rydell Early is an example of the working poor. He works at Taco Cabana and makes $9.25 an hour. While that is above the minimum wage, he says it still doesn't go far enough.

"It's sad to say this but some of the resources I use, homeless people should be using and I'm actually employed. It's absolutely vital that people of the working class get a higher wage," said Early.

Some who testified argued that businesses were on board with a wage hike, but Republicans questioned that.

"Why haven't those people self-imposed it if it was so obvious this was a good idea?" asked Rep. Jonathan Stickland, R-Bedford.

Some small business groups agreed a hike of $10 or even $15 an hour just isn't plausible.

"While it sounds really good on a policy level, the optics of it, let's pay everyone more and it makes everyone happier but the economic reality is, that's just not affordable for all small business owners," said Annie Spilman, Texas Legislative director for the National Federation of Independent Business.  

They argue most businesses pay their workers higher than what's minimally required anyway and that a universal wage hike could put some small businesses out of business.

Twenty nine states have raised the minimum wage above the federal average of $7.25.

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