Minimum wage increase gives local state employee hope

A minimum wage of $7.25 is not enough in Kentucky anymore, at least for some state workers, according to Governor Steve Beshear.

On Monday, Beshear signed an executive order raising the minimum wage to $10.10 for state employees under the executive branch of the commonwealth. This includes veteran nursing homes, behavioral health facilities, and state parks.

Employees like Kayce Cooper at Kenlake State Resort Park are thrilled with the news. Cooper has been a housekeeper there for 2 years. She has already thought about how she will spend the money from an almost $3 raise. “There are a lot of things that I could actually take my girls to do,” she said. “They always want to go places and we can never go because I can never afford it.”

Cooper says she likes her job, but does not like living check to check. Without government assistance, she could not make ends meet on her minimum wage full-time job. She says she lives in government housing, receives food stamps, and her daughters are on state medical insurance. She hopes that this raise will enable her to stand on her own two feet.

Republicans who oppose the increase say it’s promoting a minimum wage culture instead of higher wage jobs. The party leaders also argue the government should not determine what the private sector can pay.

Rep. Gerald Watson, a Democrat representing House District 3, says another effort to raise the minimum wage will occur in 2016. He says he hopes it will make it through the senate next year. “It is essential. Over 50 percent of those living on minimum wage are over the age of 23,” he said.

“And 70 percent are women,” Watson added.

Beshear will be at Kentucky Dam State Park tomorrow at 3:15 p.m. to discuss his executive order.

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