Are Washington State Minimum Wage Increases on the Horizon?

Date: November 18, 2015

The results from two recent votes might highlight what’s to come in the state.

Tacoma and Spokane voters took up minimum wage increases on their Nov. 3 ballots, and the results might shape the debate on a statewide minimum wage when the legislature convenes in January.


In Tacoma, business owners got good and bad news. While the city avoided a $15 minimum wage increase that would’ve gone into effect as early as this December, the area’s owners will still see increases coming in 2016.


Voters opted for a more gradual—and less severe—increase that will raise wages to $10.35 next February. From there, the minimum wage will be raised to $11.15 in January 2017 and then to $12 in January 2018, the Huffington Post reported.


Minimum wage measures were also taken up in Spokane. However, the proposition was ultimately defeated. On the city’s ballot was a Worker Bill of Rights initiative, a proposal that included a minimum wage increase that could’ve potentially reached $21 an hour for employees at larger companies, according to some estimates.


City Council President Ben Stuckart said that the measure would have applied to some 2,000 city employees and that he would have been forced to start layoffs if the measure passed, Al Jazeera reported.


“The measure would increase minimum wage higher than anywhere in the U.S.,” he told Al Jazeera. “I’m against it, and I’m known as a very liberal politician in Spokane.”


Pushes for minimum wage increases are becoming a sticking point throughout the state—and country—and these votes could shape how state legislatures approach the issue when they convene in 2016.

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