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Leggett Vetoes County Minimum Wage Increase, Remains Open to Approval With Changes

Montgomery County Executive Ike Leggett has sent a letter to County Council President Roger Berliner stating that he has vetoed Bill 12-16 which would have gradually increased the County minimum wage to $15 per hour by 2020.

The bill is now dead, but Leggett told Berliner and the County Council that he still supports the idea of increasing the County’s minimum wage at a slower rate and only after an economic study on how such an increase would affect both private companies and the County budget.

Bill 12-16, which was approved by a 5-4 vote by the County Council last week, was criticized by business leaders, and those Council members voting in opposition, as being too much, too soon.

“The only way to express my position regarding this bill at this time is to reluctantly veto and return it to you with what I believe is a more reasonable path to moving the County to a $15 wage,” wrote Leggett.

“I support the effort to move toward $15 per hour over an appropriate timeframe and under certain conditions,” wrote Leggett. “And that sentiment was expressed to you and your Council colleagues who voted against the bill.” He noted that in 2013, the Council unanimously approved a Minimum Wage bill, which raised the minimum wage to $11.50 in the span of four years with the final increase going into effect on July 1, 2017. That bill remains in effect.

“But this year’s effort became much more contentious and divided resulting in only a 5-4 majority. Many believed it went too far, too fast, and I am disappointed that we did not find a broader consensus,” wrote Leggett.

Another criticism of the Bill 12-16 was that it would make the cost of doing business in and with Montgomery County too high compared to neighboring communities, with the exception of the District of Columbia which already has a higher minimu