Montana’s Minimum Wage Under Attack

by jhwygirl

2006’s Initiative 151 raised Montana’s minimum wage and tied its increases, annually, to inflation.

Donald J Steinbeisser, of Sidney, has proposed SB254 that would remove the inflation indexing and stall minimum wage at $6.90 an hour.

I am shocked that a legislator would be working to subvert the will of the voters. I-151 passed with a huge majority – 285,535 to 107,294.

Also proposed by Steinbeisser – a real friend to the working guy, I have to say /snark – is SB253, which would allow an employer tip credit against the minimum wage.

This one is horrible in that it doesn’t even state a minimum of how low that wage would go.

Both of these are in Senate Business, Labor & Economic Affairs, on Wednesday. University kids working at minimum wage? Motivate here – tell your friends. Pat Murdo is the staffer for the committee, If sending comment, be sure to mention the bill by number and to note that you are submitting public comment.

Here is a list of committee members:

Balyeat, Joe (Ch)
Jackson, Verdell (V Ch)
Barkus, Gregory
Brown, Roy
Keane, Jim
Peterson, Jim
Squires, Carolyn
Steinbeisser, Donald
Stewart-Peregoy, Sharon
Tropila, Joseph
Windy Boy, Jonathan

You can find information on how to contact these legislators directly HERE.


  1. Widowmaker

    A couple of thoughts. Would you support a bill that required every employee to get raises based on the inflation scale? 2008 came awfully close to having deflation. If deflation occurs and inflation is -3 cents on the dollar for example, does that mean you would support a decrease in minimum wage?

  2. JC

    Well, considering minimum wage has been lagging behind the inflation rate for many years now, (and executive pay far outstripping it) it would take quite a few years of deflation before it would serve to equalize wage inequities in this country.

    Better to see CEO and executive’s exorbitant salaries, bonuses and golden parachutes (and the Lear Jets to bail out with) absorb the declining revenues and net incomes of corporate (corpulant?) America.

  3. I have a friend that says “screw minimum wage – let’s have a maximum wage!”

  4. Widowmaker

    This actually got me thinking towards postage. Now, if you remember during the “forever stamp” thing it was a ruse to change the laws that now congress no longer has to approve an increase in postage. And it now automatically raises with inflation every May. But if there is deflation, I doubt they would decrease the price of postage. Maybe laws that increase with inflation should say move with inflation.

  5. FarmerLawyer

    Okay, so I will readily admit that this may sound like the standard argument against a minimum wage and indexing it to inflation, but I must admit that personal experience has provided some credence to these claims. Thus, a few questions:

    What proof can we point to that indexing the minimum wage to some sort of inflationary measure is beneficial to the economy? I can say that I was under pressure to move work from our operations in Washington State (where the minimum wage have been indexed since 1998 and is now $8.55/hr) to here in Montana where until last year. I’m not trying to pad my pockets, I’m trying to just stay afloat in a collapsing economy. How has Washington’s economy fared compared to other states in these times? How about before the collapse?

    What about the people in the middle of my payroll, what financial effects and payroll correlations can be found for these folks? The more money I am “required” to spend on my entry level workers, the less money I have to spend on my experienced laborers, supervisors and managers. I only have so much money for raises, so I find that I am now holding my senior worker’s wages just so I can keep my payroll numbers at a maximum.

    What about the fact that the most common minimum wage earners are usually either teenagers or unskilled adults? These workers are untrained, and I’m willing to train them, but where is their incentive to stay when I can’t give them a raise after they’re trained. Economic theory says that when we raise the minimum wage, we lower the employment level (that is we increase the unemployment level), is this what we want to be doing in this economy?

    I’m no economist, but it doesn’t seem that this is a right or wrong scenario. Rather it seems like a this for that situation. We can have higher wages, but what is the trade off? We can have higher employment, but that means a more flexible workforce and lower wages. Now I’m not advocating for elimination of the minimum wage, but regularly increasing it year after year . . . doesn’t seem wise to me.

    To be fair, I’m not talking about the Fortune500 companies here, as far as I’m concerned small businesses (like mine) are hurting and this sort of move would help (even if it’s against, I concede, the will of the people of Montana). There are roughly only 79,000 small business owners in the state of Montana, so it’s probable that most of the people voting on this issue haven’t seen both sides of the coin. Can we really expect that even a fair percentage of the 285,535 who voted for I-151 knew the answers to these questions? – because I didn’t . . . and I still don’t.

  6. You are focusing the minimum wage argument on the economy. First of all, the economy sucks everywhere right now – but prior to that, the median wage in Washington was (and still is) higher than that of Montana’s. Virtually every economist – and people on both sides of the aisles – agree that the best thing to do to kick-start this economy is to keep as much money as possible in the hands of the consumer. So cutting or freezing wages (taking the inverse of your argument – that increasing minimum wage will help the economy) will NOT help the economy. It would act, in fact, as an impediment.

    So without weakening the economy – i.e., getting and keeping more $ in the hands of the consumer – those middle-wage payroller’s are safer and more stable.

    The reality here in Montana is that with the increase in minimum wage, small businesses did better and tax revenues went up. Not “trickle down” but “trickle up” – much in the same way as – as I noted above – that economists and virtually all politicians are in agreement with – that getting money into the hands of the consumer is the fastest thing that can be done to jump start this economy.

  1. 1 Missoula Restaurateurs Testify in Support of Cutting Minimum Wage « 4&20 blackbirds

    […] SB254 was blogged about here. Please note that there was no executive action (i.e., vote) taken today, and it is not too late to contact the committee members, letting them know how you would like them to vote. Contact information is in that post. […]

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