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Minimum Wage Hike Hearing Set In Annapolis

ANNAPOLIS, Md. (WJZ) -- There's been some movement towards resolving an issue holding up Governor Martin O'Malley's minimum wage bill. A Senate committee could be voting soon on the proposal to raise the wage to $10.10 an hour.

Political reporter Pat Warren reports the benefit could be extended to those who work with the disabled.

Workers who provide direct care for Marylanders with developmental disabilities are petitioning the state for some help of their own. Making just over $9 an hour, they would take higher paying jobs but, like Bobby John, they are devoted to the people they serve.

"If money was the reason for me sticking to having this job, I would have been gone. It's a heart thing; it's more of the heart than anything else," John said.

Disability service providers have a champion in Senate Finance Committee Chairman Mac Middleton, who is insisting they get a pay raise along with those who stand to gain from the governor's proposed minimum wage increase.

"In my opinion, the two go hand in hand," Middleton said.

Workers and their clients packed the hearing room Wednesday. The proposal is to raise the minimum wage from $7.25 to $10.10 an hour. These workers are asking the state to keep them above the minimum, rather than being absorbed into it.

"It's really not fair," said Thomasina Williams.

"The governor gave us some numbers last week. We've taken those numbers; we think they're workable, that we can still keep the direct care workers' salaries right above 135% of the minimum wage," Middleton said.

Supporters think that's a small thing to ask.

"What motivates me is I like seeing people with significant needs become more independent so they can take control of their own lives with having minimum support," said Joe Postow.

And they consider that worth more than minimum wage.

The increase could cost an estimated $30 million over the next five years.

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