Oklahoma’s cities and counties are banned from setting their own minimum wage standards under a bill signed into law Monday by Gov. Mary Fallin.
“Senate Bill 1023 protects our economy from bad public policy that would destroy Oklahoma jobs,” Fallin said in a prepared statement. “Mandating a minimum wage increase at the local level would drive businesses to other communities and states, and would raise prices for consumers.”
Fallin’s action appears to thwart efforts by an Oklahoma City group that had been circulating a petition calling for a local vote on whether to increase the city’s minimum wage from the national standard of $7.25 an hour up to $10.10 an hour.
Oklahoma City attorney David Slane, who serves as spokesman for the group circulating the petition, said his coalition is contemplating its next move.
“Of course we’re disappointed that the governor and the Republican Legislature stood in the way of the people having the right to vote on whether they want to raise minimum wage,” Slane said. “We’re looking now at the possibility of a constitutional challenge to the law that was signed because we think that it abrogates the people’s right to have an initiative petition. ... We’re going to explore all options, including the possibility of a statewide initiative petition.”
State Rep. Eric Proctor, D-Tulsa, argued against the bill on the House floor, contending it was “immoral” to have a minimum wage so low that a person could work full time and still be classified as living in poverty.
Fallin, however, said that raising the minimum wage would hurt Oklahomans.
She cited a February report by the Congressional Budget Office that indicated raising the minimum wage nationally could lead to a loss of a half-million jobs in the United States.
“Most minimum wage workers are young, single people working part-time or entry-level jobs,” Fallin said.
“Many are high school or college students living with their parents in middle class families. Mandating an increase in the minimum wage would require businesses to fire many of those part-time workers. It would create a hardship for small business owners, stifle job creation and increase costs for consumers. And it would do all of these things without even addressing the goal of reducing poverty.”
Most minimum wage workers are young, single people working part-time or entry-level jobs.”
Gov. Mary Fallin,