As costs of living continue to rise, many Texans are struggling because the minimum wage has remained $7.25 since 2009. Families have had to sacrifice on basic necessities like transportation, housing, and food.
For most Texans, the main mode of transportation to and from work is by car, and gas prices are going up faster than wages. Even those who cannot afford a car and may resort to public transportation are faced with fare increases which bite into their bottom line. Earlier this year, the Dallas Area Rapid Transit board increased the price of most fares by 20 percent. As the Dallas Observer put it, “DART riders will continue to pay premium prices for ordinary services.”
“It’s cruel. You’re hurting the most desperate,” Steven Schiffer told the DART board in February. “I don’t understand the point of a 20-percent fare hike on people who clearly need access to the city to get to their jobs.”
The same pattern of rising costs applies to the housing market. From 2007-2015, rent in Texas have risen by 6 percent, while household income has declined by 4 percent. The average price for a two-bedroom apartment in Dallas is now $1,324. Affording a two-bedroom rent under the current $7.25 minimum wage means having to work at least 117 hours per week – or more than three full-time jobs at 35 hours a week.
Living on the current federal minimum wage is unsustainable for any Texan. Increasing the minimum wage would make it easier for working Texans to find stability.
As Pew Research points out, a majority of Americans across the political spectrum are in favor of increasing the minimum wage to $10.10, and a University of Texas/Texas Tribune poll released in February showed 62 percent of Texans favor an increase in the minimum wage. More than half of the United States have increased their minimum wage since 2010. Why hasn’t Texas?
Maybe it’s the opposition. The business lobby and many corporations – which oppose any increase in the minimum wage – has plowed millions of dollars in contributions to legislative campaigns, and every minimum wage bill or amendment offered in the past ten years has been voted down in Austin. It’s now become common for state legislators and candidates to toe the anti-worker line as they accept campaign cash from corporate PACs and lobbyists.
Jonathan Boos, running for state representative in Dallas County, has publicly stated he “strongly disagrees” with the position the government should ensure everyone has a livable income. Boos’ campaign finance records – available through the Texas Ethics Commission – show Boos has accepted more than $125,000 from committees and PACs.
Candidates like Jonathan Boos won’t stand with the majority of Texans who support wage increases because it’s easier to take big checks from lobbyists and PACs. Wage increases leave workers with more disposable income, which studies show get plowed back into the local economy, primarily into small businesses. Candidates like Jonathan Boos will continue to vote against the interests of hard-working Texans unless we rein in the power of the special interests and Reform Austin.