Compromise may be looming in Raimondo's minimum wage pledge
With the gap between rich and poor growing, income inequality has become an increasingly popular topic among politicians, particularly Democrats.
During her campaign for Rhode Island governor, Gina Raimondo pledged to increase the state's minimum wage, something that has been done three times in the past three years — 10 times in the past 20 years.
In addition, she promised to changed the minimum wage system so that future increases would be tied to inflation.
On the "Equality and Opportunity" page of her campaign website, GinaRaimondo.com, she said that if inequality is left unaddressed, it "threatens to undermine any efforts to improve our state's economy. Gina will work every day to ensure that all Rhode Islanders are treated fairly and with the respect they deserve. She will fight for policies that give working families the support they need to thrive."
"As governor," it said, Raimondo will, "Raise the minimum wage to $10.10 in 2015 and index it to inflation, guaranteeing that workers will have a wage that keeps pace with the changing costs of the goods and services they buy, regardless of which way the political winds are blowing."
We logged the promise the day after she was elected. That "Equality and Opportunity" page is now gone from the website.
Of late, Raimondo has dropped the forceful language of the campaign and she now appears to be backing away from the idea of indexing it to inflation.
She did go to the East Bay Community Center on April 2, 2015 to raise support for the increase.
"I have not submitted legislation but I am working with legislators. I'm calling on the General Assembly to submit legislation to do this," she said. "I'm here to say, 'Help me advocate to get the General Assembly to get this to $10.10,' and the details will be worked out in the legislative session."
When asked if she would advocate having the minimum wage tied to inflation, the governor said, "I'm open to it. It's something I'll have to work on with them as we go through it."
Going from being an advocate for indexing, as she was in the campaign, to being open to it, seems like a shift in priorities and she may be preparing to compromise with a General Assembly that has been burned by cost-of-living increases in the state pension system.
For now, with Raimondo still expressing support for a $10.10 minimum wage, we rate her promise as In the Works. Barely.
In June of 2015, Raimondo signed a law that raised the minimum wage to $9.60.
In 2016, she hasn't abandoned $10.10 per hour. She has once again proposed raising the minimum wage from $9.60 to $10.10 an hour. But she's made no progress on indexing.
GinaRaimondo.com, "Equality and Opportunity," archived from Nov. 5, 2014 (web page no longer available on her site)
DLT.RI.gov, "Statistical & Fiscal Digest 2013," "Rhode Island Minimum Hourly Wage Rates: 1956 to Present" chart, Rhode Island Department of Labor and Training, accessed April 2, 2015
News conference, R.I. Gov. Gina Raimondo, East Bay Community Action Program, April 2, 2015
RI.gov, "Raimondo Jobs Package: Creating Opportunity" news release, April 2, 2015