Local Businesses React to President Obama's Minimum Wage Increase Proposal

By: Lauren Forsythe Email
By: Lauren Forsythe Email

Polls are showing the majority of Americans are having a very positive reaction to Tuesday night's State of the Union Address.

"Let's declare that in the wealthiest nation on earth, no one who works full time should have to live in poverty," said President Obama during last night's address.

A declaration to raise the national minimum wage from $7.25 an hour to $9.00 an hour.

"I've got three kids. I've got two boys in football and they are always needing money you know it would be great. I'm the only one working right now and my husband is disabled, and it would be great," server, Gina Lillis says.

For workers like Lillis, it sounds like the financial relief she's been waiting for.

She's been working forty hours a week making $2.13 an hour plus tips.

"It's hard. I've been out telling people that I now working at Teresa's and to come see me," she says.

But, for independent restaurant owners like Teresa Blairreno, a nine dollar an hour minimum wage would make it hard to keep up.

"If they have a bad day and they don't make nine dollars an hour then they are paying taxes on money they never see, the same as I am," Blairreno says.

If the money a server makes doesn't average out to minimum wage, they still pay taxes as if they make minimum wage.

Teresa also pays a 6.2 percent social security tax for her employees, which is factored out of the $7.45 Kentucky minimum wage.

"I get that Obama is trying to get people off the poverty level, but all that's going to do is now the nine dollar and hour people are going to be in poverty instead of $7.45 because everything else is going to increase," Blairreno says.

Teresa fears she will have to raise menu prices and cut hours if the minimum wage does increase.

Teresa's Restaurant is already only open six hours a day.

When the minimum wage was raised to $7.45 in Kentucky, Teresa says she was forced to cut dinner hours, which also cut servers.

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