Governor Terry Branstad says he doesn’t like the “hodge podge” of city and county minimum wage hikes that are going into effect in Iowa. After the election’s over, he plans to talk with legislators about setting a higher statewide minimum wage. “I think it would be wise for us to carefully review the workforce and what the needs are out there and look at what neighboring states have done and what is competitive,” Branstad says. The state’s minimum wage is 7-dollars-and-25 cents an hour, identical to the federal minimum wage. Every state that borders Iowa has raised its minimum wage higher than that.
“Now we’re seeing this activity in several counties and I think it becomes a challenge and difficult for many businesses and many people,” Branstad says. “It would be better if we had a uniform, statewide minimum wage.” County boards of supervisors in Johnson, Linn, Wapello and Polk Counties have voted to raise the minimum wage locally. Many of those county officials have expressed the hope their action would pressure state officials to act on the issue.
“I know this is a challenging and controversial issue and there are those that would like to demand $15,” Branstad says. “And honestly, I think most people, including the supervisors here in Polk County, determined that wasn’t realistic, so we have to look at what’s fair, but also what’s realistic and will hurt people and not hurt small business.” Branstad says he wants to find a “bipartisan” consensus in the legislature on the issue. Branstad’s staff issued a “clarification” later in the day, Monday, saying Branstad was not openly advocating for an INCREASE in the minimum wage
In 1990, Republicans in the legislature voted against a bill Democrats passed that called for raising the state’s minimum wage above the federal level. Branstad surprised his fellow Republicans by signing it into law. Now, Branstad’s giving advanced warning that he’s open to taking similar action in 2017.
Here are the minimum wage rates in surrounding states: $8.25 in Illinois; $7.56 in Missouri and it will go up to $7.80 next year; $9.00 in Nebraska; $8.50 in South Dakota; $9.50 in Minnesota.