By Derrick DePledge
The state House Finance Committee on Tuesday evening deferred a minimum wage bill after a hearing in which the tip credit was the most significant source of debate.
Rep. Sylvia Luke, the committee's chairwoman, said the House would wait to see how the Senate Ways and Means Committee handles a minimum wage bill on Wednesday morning. Much of the focus in the minimum wage debate has been on the Senate, which had pushed for a higher tip credit last session that ultimately prevented an agreement on a minimum wage increase.
But Luke also said she wanted more time for all sides in the debate to review a new concept relating to the tip credit. Luke and others have suggested a "poverty threshold," where the tip credit would not apply unless a worker reaches a certain income trigger. Luke said it could ensure that low-income workers would at least get paid the minimum wage.
Restaurant and other business interests concerned about the tip credit appeared open to the concept. Some business owners have recommended making the tip credit a percentage of tipped income -- such as 20 percent -- instead of a fixed amount.
The state's minimum wage is $7.25 an hour and has not been increased since 2007. The tip credit -- the amount businesses can deduct from the minimum wage for waiters and others who earn tips -- is 25 cents an hour.
House and Senate leaders have privately discussed increasing the minimum wage to $10 an hour by January 2018. The tip credit would increase to 75 cents.