EDITORIAL | Spokesman-Review: I-1433 ignores most of the state

October 22, 2016
The (Spokane) Spokesman-Review
Editorial Board

Under Initiative 1433, the minimum wage in Metaline Falls, in depressed Pend Oreille County, will be higher than Portland’s by 2020.

Proponents wish to take the state’s relatively high minimum wage and boost it even more, from Sammamish to St. John to Sunnyside. …

Seattle is home to a soaring economy, so its ability to absorb a high minimum wage is different from that of Spokane and small towns. The hotly debated progress report on Seattle’s minimum wage is beside the point to the most of the state.

The economic variation in Washington is stark. West Side suburbs glisten with new money. Towns that once hummed with natural-resource-based jobs are hurting.

I-1433 proponents must shut their eyes as they traverse the state, because the initiative does not recognize the widely differing circumstances in Mercer Island vs. Metaline Falls. It does not offer wage flexibility. It does not exempt small businesses from the sick leave mandate. Spokane’s recently adopted sick leave ordinance does offer such relief, as a nod to reality.

No wonder I-1433 is called a blunt instrument. …

The moral argument that the minimum wage should be a “living wage” sounds terrific in theory. In reality, it puts the onus for housing, health care, transportation and utility costs squarely on the shoulders of employers (large and small). Increases in any of those factors can make it more difficult to make payroll, but the living-wage logic says, “Time for a raise.”

Plus, as everyone knows, a living wage is determined by where you live.

I-1433 doesn’t bother with these details, so we urge voters to reject it.

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