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Lexington Raises Minimum Wage

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The Lexington-Fayette Urban County Council passed a measure to raise Lexington's minimum wage Thursday night. 

Nearly three hours into the meeting, they voted 9 to 6 to raise the figure from $7.25 an hour to $10 an hour over the next three years. The council members said the raise is not the sole solution and more work needs to be done in future.

“I'm actually not against it. 7.25 an hour, I don’t think anyone can survive on that,” said Jim Betts, the owner of local Bluegrass Baking Company.

Betts says he has paid his employees more than minimum wage for about 15 years, but says he believes raising minimum wage would likely drive up the cost of goods.

“If the income doesn't change and the cost of business goes up, there’s a tension there that needs to be resolved,” said Betts.

The Kentucky Center for Economic Policy says the minimum wage has lost a quarter of its value in inflation adjusted terms since it peaked in 1968. They estimate the 41 thousand workers in Fayette County would benefit from the increase.

"I think that's a big step forward into bridging the gap between the extremely wealthy and those who live on the poverty line,” of Lexington.

According to the Economic Policy Institute, a one parent, one child family in Lexington needs a little over $43,000 a year to afford food, housing and other necessities. A full time minimum wage worker makes about $15,000 a year.

"I also see that people who are making ten, eleven dollars an hour and viewing that as a good wage, all of a sudden everyone is making ten an hour. It's not going to stop at minimum wage,” said Betts.

Mayor Jim Gray pledged not to veto the measure after it passed. to sign it into law.

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