Legislature inside Capitol

A children's advocacy organization released results of a poll early Wednesday showing a majority of Nebraskans support an increase to the state's minimum wage.

The poll was paid for by Voices for Children in Nebraska, which supports the increase.

"Raising the minimum wage is both the popular thing to do and the right thing to do," said Carolyn Rooker, Voices for Children executive director.

The poll, conducted by Prism Surveys, sampled 600 voters statewide using automated phones.

A question asking whether a respondent would support a minimum wage hike included information that the minimum wage had not been raised in Nebraska in 3½ years.

The poll also asked voters to choose if they would support lowering the minimum wage, abolishing the minimum wage law or keeping the minimum wage at $7.25 an hour.

Fifty-five percent supported raising the minimum wage, 35 percent opposed raising it and 10 percent were unsure.

When given the choice of lowering, abolishing or leaving the minimum wage as is, 64.5 percent said they would leave it as is.

Participation in the poll was limited to people with home phones. The margin of error was plus or minus 4 percent. 

The minimum wage increase measure (LB943) that could be debated by the Legislature this session is Omaha Sen. Jeremy Nordquist's priority bill. It would gradually raise the state's minimum wage to $9 an hour over three years.

The Business and Labor Committee voted 6-1 to advance the bill to the full Legislature. Sen. Tom Hansen of North Platte voted against moving the bill out of committee.

Nebraska's minimum wage is currently set at the federal minimum. Currently 21 states have minimum wages above the federal minimum, including Colorado and Missouri.

Billionaire investor Warren Buffett has argued that raising the earned income tax credit, to give tax money back to those earning below a certain income level, is a more realistic way to proceed.

Lincoln Sen. Danielle Conrad introduced a bill (LB956) this session that would raise the earned income tax credit from 10 percent to 13 percent of the federal credit allowed. That bill remains in the Revenue Committee.

In 2012, 133,693 Nebraska families claimed nearly $30 million in state earned income tax credit, according to the Nebraska Department of Revenue.

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Reach JoAnne Young at 402-473-7228 or jyoung@journalstar.com -- You can follow JoAnne's tweets at twitter.com/ljslegislature.


State government reporter

JoAnne Young covers state government, including the Legislature and state agencies, and the people they serve.

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