Column | Sue Lani Madsen: November initiatives expose system’s flaws

OPINION
OCTOBER 14, 2016
THE SPOKESMAN-REVIEW
SUE LANI MADSEN

Oversimplification: I-1433, minimum wage and benefit requirements. One size does not fit all in a state as diverse as Washington. The current minimum wage meets or exceeds the living wage requirements for a single adult in every county in the 5th Congressional District, according to the MIT Living Wage Calculator. Yet in King County, it’s 25 percent too low.

Even Western Washington isn’t monolithic. While the current state minimum of $9.47 is lower than a living wage in King County, it’s 5 percent higher than a living wage in Grays Harbor County. Variations in labor pricing are directly tied to local economic conditions. Oregon recognized this in passing regional minimum wage rates, consequences as yet unknown. Flawed legislation can be adjusted in the next session, but flawed initiatives are frozen for two years before the Legislature can fix them without clearing a two-thirds vote hurdle.

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