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Dispatches from public radio's correspondent at the Washington Legislature. Austin Jenkins is the Olympia correspondent for the Northwest News Network. You can also see Austin on television as host of TVW's (the C–SPAN of Washington State) weekly public affairs program "Inside Olympia."

Governor Inslee Says Time For Statewide Minimum Wage Discussion

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Christina Salerno
/
TVW
File photo of Washington Governor Jay Inslee

 Washington Governor Jay Inslee says it’s time for a discussion on raising the state’s minimum wage - already the nation's highest.

But the Democrat stopped short of calling for a $15 per hour statewide minimum wage.

“I don’t have any particular number in mind right now," said the governor. "This is something we need to have a conversation about.”

The Democrat’s comments Thursday come in the wake of a vote in the city of SeaTac to enact a $15 per hour minimum wage. The idea has also been proposed by a newly elected Seattle city council member.

Inslee says Washington’s base wage is not keeping pace even though it’s already the nation’s highest and has a built-in annual escalator.

“Look, Henry Ford understood that he had to pay his people decent so they could buy his cars so, yes, I think that having a healthy minimum wage is an actual good thing for the Washington state economy.”

Inslee says the minimum wage should be part of a broader discussion about income inequality in an era of globalization.

Earlier this year, Don Brunell of the Association of Washington Business argued the long term solution is economic growth.“Trying to artificially impose higher wages will slow job creation – the opposite of what we need and want.”

Since January 2004, Austin Jenkins has been the Olympia-based political reporter for the Northwest News Network. In that position, Austin covers Northwest politics and public policy, as well as the Washington State Legislature. You can also see Austin on television as host of TVW's (the C–SPAN of Washington State) Emmy-nominated public affairs program "Inside Olympia."