Marty Walsh Misstates Massachusetts Minimum Wage In U.S. Senate Confirmation Hearing

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Boston Mayor and federal Secretary of Labor nominee Marty Walsh supports raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour but when speaking about minimum wage, he incorrectly stated his state’s minimum wage. 

Walsh said Thursday he thought minimum wage in Boston is $12.75 an hour. It was last year. However, it is now $13.50 an hour — an increase of 75 cents an hour that took place on New Year’s Day this year.

During the hearing, U.S. Senator Roger Marshall (R-Kansas) spoke to Walsh about the minimum wage. He asked Walsh about the price impact a minimum wage increase has on consumer goods. Walsh claimed that the last cup of coffee he bought in Boston cost $1.75 at Dough Boy Donuts (the cheapest coffee on the menu is $1.95 and would exceed $2 with the 7 percent meals tax). Marshall said that in Kansas, some gas stations give people free cups of coffee for filling up their gas tanks.

Marshall spoke of his support for setting minimum wages at the state and local level rather than federally when questioning Walsh. During this exchange, Walsh revealed he didn’t know what the minimum wage is in Boston.

“As I look at cost of living, the median house in Boston is $600,000, the median house in my hometown of Great Bend is $83,000,” Marshall said. “The cost of living index in Boston, is literally 2.2, a multiple of 2.2 from where I live. You have a minimum wage now of $12?”

Walsh replied, “I think it’s $12.75.”

Marshall, unaware of the actual minimum wage in Boston, continued by saying, “$12. The minimum wage in Great Bend is $7.25. So a $7 an hour job in Great Bend would be like a $16 an hour job in Boston, Massachusetts. I guess what I’m trying to get at is how can we have a nationwide minimum wage of $15 which frankly would kill a lot of jobs in Kansas. I mean, I’m all for if you want a $15 minimum wage in Boston knock your socks off, but in Kansas that’d be a pretty big job-killing wage.”

To this, Walsh expressed support for the $15 an hour minimum wage federally, without responding substantively to Senator Marshall’s point.

“I think the issue around minimum wage is actually going to be debated on the Senate floor and the United States Congress floor. President Biden has stressed that he supports a $15 an hour minimum wage national wage. I support him in that $15 an hour minimum wage and I think that there’s going to be many conversations from now until something passes the Senate and the House around conversations about how that if that in fact passes, how does that $15 an hour minimum wage gets instituted, implemented.”

Since Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker approved the Grand Bargain in June 2018, the minimum wage in Massachusetts is on track to reach $15 an hour by 2023.

The s0-called Grand Bargain raised the minimum wage from $11 an hour to $12 an hour at the start of 2019. In each subsequent year until 2023, it increases by 75 cents an hour so that it gradually reaches $15 an hour. The Grand Bargain also established paid family and medical leave in Massachusetts and made the sales tax holiday theoretically permanent.