Food service worker makes the case for higher minimum wage

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A Florida food service worker was one of the witnesses at a Feb. 25 hearing of the U.S. Senate Budget Committee on the minimum wage and other economic issues affecting individuals, families and communities.

Emily Kimball, AFT member, Madison County (FLa.) Education Association

Edith Kimball, a member of the Madison County (Fla.) Education Association and mother of three, is a food service professional at Lee Elementary School. She told the committee members about how an increase in the minimum wage would provide her family with more stability and opportunity. "In my job, that would mean an increase of $200 more a month for my family," she said. "That would help give us a just a little more in our budget. It could help me open a college savings plan for my children for their future.

"I know other families in my town that would be helped by an increase in the minimum wage too. And I think it would make more people want to work. It is my prayer that you will think about towns like mine and families like mine when you make major decisions here. We should not be forgotten and left by the wayside."

Courtney Johnson, a high school English teacher from Columbus, Ohio, also testified at the hearing. She urged the senators to help create economic and educational opportunities to ensure all families have a chance to succeed. "We can create a world where kids have hope that they can move out of poverty and into a strong middle class," she said. "You can work on investing in jobs and ensuring job creation in my state and in my community."

Sen. Patty Murray, the Washington Democrat who chairs the Budget Committee, noted that "the simple truth is, across the country today, the recovery isn't reaching enough people nearly fast enough. Too many parents sit at their kitchen table, wondering how they'll be able to send their kids to college or save for retirement. And Congress hasn't been making nearly enough of the kinds of investments students need to get ahead."

"Expanding opportunity isn't just the right thing to do," she said. "It's good for the economy. And it's a good solution to our long-term fiscal challenges. That's because when more people have the chance to get ahead, our economy will grow. When our economy grows, more Americans will be able to contribute. And more growth and prosperity will help us to close our long-term budget deficits."

More details on the hearing, including statements and video, are available on the Budget Committee website. [Dan Gursky, Senate Budget Committee]

February 26, 2014