RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Former Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) hopes to get Virginia’s minimum wage up to $15 per hour two years ahead of schedule, proposing an economic plan Thursday as part of his reelection campaign that centers on strengthening the commonwealth’s workforce.
McAuliffe’s proposal calls for employers to provide paid sick days and family medical leave statewide, using federal money to pay co-payments for child care for families who need assistance and initiatives to close pay gaps.
“And women, and women of color, are but particularly hurt by this COVID crisis. Millions have lost their jobs all across the country and here in the commonwealth,” McAuliffe said in an interview Friday.
The former governor added that racial disparities in job losses during the pandemic is what drove him to focus his proposal on providing additional options for workers in the “post-COVID-19 economy.”
“That’s how you rebuild, getting people back to work, getting them into the workforce builds a stronger economy that thus gives me more revenue to invest more in education and continue to build it,” he continued.
State lawmakers approved a gradual minimum wage hike last year, but it won’t reach $15 per hour until at least 2026. The proposal from McAuliffe pushes for it begin in 2024. “If we want to improve the economic security for women,” it reads, “we must accelerate the path to a $15 minimum wage.”
A recent study from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office found that 1.4 million workers would loss their jobs across the country if the minimum wage went to $15 per hour but “the number of people in poverty would be reduced by 0.9 million.”
If elected, McAuliffe’s plan calls for investing more into programs that expand access to apprenticeships and on-the-job learning opportunities.