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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."

Washington House Democrats Propose $12 Minimum Wage

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File photo of the House Chamber at the Washington state Capitol in Olympia

Washington’s minimum wage would rise to $12 per hour by 2017 under a proposal from Democrats in the state House.

The measure introduced Thursday would phase-in the $2.68 increase over three years.

“A day’s work should produce a living wage," says the bill's prime sponsor, freshman Democrat Jessyn Farrell of Seattle.

"We know that if you work full time at minimum wage in Washington state you are still at the federal poverty level. That means you qualify for food stamps and other assistance.”

Governor Jay Inslee quickly praised the proposal as a “commonsense plan.” Republicans say a minimum wage hike is counterproductive and the focus should be on reducing the cost of doing business in Washington.

The state currently has the highest minimum wage in the country at $9.32 an hour.