Oklahoma lawmakers propose raise in minimum wage

Published: Jan. 31, 2022 at 7:24 PM CST
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LAWTON, Okla. (KSWO) - Oklahoma’s $7.25 wage could be increasing. Lawmakers have filled two separate bills for the upcoming session in an attempt to make that happen.

Senate Bill 332 would increase the state’s minimum wage each year until it reaches $15 an hour in 2027.

Senate Bill 1232 would allow minimum wage to jump up to $12 an hour and would increase by $.50 annually until it reaches $15.

Lawton Fort Sill Chamber of Commerce President Krista Smith-Ratliff believes there’s pros and cons to what lawmakers are trying to do.

“We want people in our community to earn a living wage and to be able to live comfortably. We also want to support our small businesses. If a small business has to increase the wage overnight to $12 or $15 an hour for their employees, that’s going to make it hard for some of them to keep their doors open,” Smith-Ratliff said.

Owner of Mike’s Sports Grille, Mike Underwood said he’s not concerned about closing his doors because of the clientele he’s gained over time. His worries are having to cut labor if one of the bills were to pass.

“The employees you are paying $15 an hour are not going to work for $15 dollars an hour,” Underwood said. “That’s going to raise their salaries probably between $20 and $25 an hour. That just raises the cost of me doing business, and every small business in this community and the state of Oklahoma.”

Underwood said big box stores like Sam’s and Walmart can afford to pay employees that kind of money, but it kills small businesses.

“You add inflation, everything it cost to run this restaurant in the last year has gone up anywhere from 10 to 20 percent,” Underwood added.

Instead of raising the cost for small business, he said lawmakers should come up with a way to give them some sort of tax break.

“I know the big oil companies, gas companies get a special deal in Oklahoma City because they got a lot of money. Small businesses like us, all we got is the Chamber and the restaurant association. They don’t have that kind of money that the big dogs have. We don’t have that kind of lobby, we don’t get that kind of treatment the big companies do,” Underwood said.

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