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Columbus Council Member Calls For $15 Minimum Wage In Exchange For Tax Breaks

Marla Pollitt

Columbus uses income tax incentives to encourage employers to create jobs. On Friday, City Council member Elizabeth Brown is announcing a measure requiring those jobs to pay at least $15 an hour.

For the past year, Columbus leaders have been demanding a living wage for the positions they create through tax breaks. Brown says so far it’s been an informal policy, and she wants to ensure it’s written permanently into city law.

“Doesn’t matter who the department director is. Doesn’t matter who the mayor is. Doesn’t matter who city council is,” Brown explains. “This is in code, this is an expectation. And Council has to review it every three years to decide if it’s time for an increase.”

Brown says it doesn’t make sense to use tax dollars to create jobs, if the employee won’t be earning enough to support themselves.

"Sending a tax dollar after a job that then needs to turn around and rely on tax dollars or public assistance to support their family—that logic doesn't compute for me," Brown says.

State law pre-empts Columbus and other cities from approving a broad-based local minimum wage different than the Ohio rate of $8.30, but the city can include the requirement in its rules for tax incentives.

Nick Evans was a reporter at WOSU's 89.7 NPR News. He spent four years in Tallahassee, Florida covering state government before joining the team at WOSU.