Senator Pryor Supports Minimum Wage Increase

- LITTLE ROCK, AR -- A U.S. Senator -- from Arkansas -- announced his support today to raise the minimum wage in the state.

Right now minimum wage in Arkansas is $6.25 an hour.

Senator Mark Pryor and other proponents would like to to see it raised to $8.50 an hour by 2017.

If voters pass it, the increase would gradually happen over a three year period.

Billy Wilchman runs a small pecan business in Blackwell.

He sells his pecans at local farmers markets.

Wilchman said, "It's just nice to be out and visit with people."

An increase to the minimum wage would have an impact on Wilchman's business.

He said, "It would be another input cost and it would have to be absorbed somewhere."

He says the cost would likely be placed back on the consumer, but Wilchman understands the need for the increase.

"Even though products would cost more, I think that people would be able to pay their bills a little easier," he said.

Senator Mark Pryor says it's been seven years since the minimum wage increased in Arkansas.

He supports an increase to help decrease poverty in the state.

Today, Pryor signed a petition to get the issue on the ballot.

He says slowly phasing in the raise will make it manageable for people like Wilchman.

Senator Pryor said, "So, it allows small businesses to budget and adjust and make the arrangements they need to make over the next three years."

Ultimately, the decision of a raise for working Arkansans would be up to the voters, if enough petition signatures are gathered.

Meanwhile, President Obama is proposing an increase to the federal minimum wage from $7.25 to $10.10 an hour over two years.

Senator Pryor says he does not support President Obama's plan because he feels it wouldn't give business owners enough time to prepare and it could result in job loss.

We also got a written response on the topic from Congressman Tom Cotton's spokesman.

It states, "This is a rare issue where Senator Pryor and Tom agree. A $10 minimum wage imposed by Washington is bad for Arkansas workers and businesses. It would hurt the very people we're trying to help. Tom believes this issue is best left to the states and it's a good idea to let Arkansas voters decide the matter."

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