The Policy And Politics Behind A Minimum Wage Boost For State Workers

Jun 5, 2018

Rep. Billy Richardson (D-Cumberland) during a debate last Friday on North Carolina's adjusted state budget.
Credit Rusty Jacobs / WUNC

In less than one month, full-time state employees in North Carolina can expect a minimum wage boost to $15 per hour. It is one of the measures in the new state budget that was rushed through by Republican legislators last week in a process that did not allow amendments.

About 8,000 state employees are set to benefit from the wage increase. But private-sector workers will see no minimum wage change. Republican legislators argue that corporate tax cuts included in recent budgets are having a spillover effect which passes savings on to employees. However according to reporting from Winston-Salem Journal senior business and healthcare reporter Richard Craver, previous tax cuts led most companies to opt for one-time bonuses for employees and to pass along most savings to shareholders in the form of share repurchases or dividend increases.

Host Frank Stasio speaks with Craver about the economic theories and politics behind the state employee increase and why the boost may be an effort to win over voters.