Legislators in Carson City heard testimony Tuesday about a proposal to raise the minimum wage. If passed, more than 50,000 workers would get a dollar an hour raise.
Surrounded by legislators and lobbyists, Kendall Earl, a minimum wage earner and mother of four, tries to explain survival on $11,000 a year. "It's not easy. I'm on Medicaid because I can't afford health insurance."
If Assembly Bill 87 passes, employees like Kendall would earn up to $160 more a month -- an increase of a dollar an hour. Yet employers in her line of work, the food and beverage industry, counter that raise could eventually add up to a layoff.
Restaurant owner David Allen said, "It will be very difficult for me to seek profit and to give bonuses or any pay raises on my own volition and that's where I come from as a small business owner."
Beyond the hourly increase opponents argued against an indexing provision in the bill requiring Nevada's minimum wage to remain a dollar above the federal standard -- or if greater -- to increase by the cost of living every year.
Restaurant owner Paymon Raouf said, "It's the indexing that's going to affect all of us. Affect our economy in the future -- 2010, 2012. That's the real concern."
Legislators pointed out that 68-percent of voters approved the measure for people like Kendall, minimum wage earners eager to bring home more for their families.
If the bill passes the legislature workers would receive the raise this October. If it fails it will continue the initiative process and go to a second vote of the people next year.