Embattled Arkansas Democrat Opposes Federal Minimum Wage Hike: ‘It’s Too Much, Too Fast’


Sen. Mark Pryor (D-AR)

Sen. Mark Pryor (D-AR) has come out against President Obama’s plan to raise the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour because “it’s too much, too fast.”

Arkansas is among the poorest states in the nation and stands to benefit hugely from a minimum wage hike. The state is just one of four with a lower minimum wage on the books than the pre-empting federal standard. About two-thirds of full-time Arkansan workers would be affected by a raise to $10.10.

Still, Pryor told Bloomberg he will oppose the measure. “I know $10.10 still isn’t a whole lot of money, but I think it’s too much, too fast,” Pryor said in an interview at the Capitol. “I’m not supportive of that.”

While Pryor feels the hike to $10.10 is “too much, too fast,” it’s actually a more modest increase than what it would actually take to get the minimum wage back in line with inflation. Research shows the raise could also boost nearly five million Americans out of poverty.

Pryor is considered one of the most vulnerable Democrats seeking re-election this year. As Bloomberg notes, the senator’s campaign has received funds from the National Retail Federation and the National Restaurant Association, which are both lobbying aggressively against a minimum wage increase. Walmart, notorious for its anti-labor practices, is also headquartered in Pryor’s state and has donated the maximum allowed amount to his campaign.

Though he opposes the federal raise to $10.10, Pryor has thrown his support behind a state ballot initiative to raise Arkansas’ minimum wage to $8.50. That initiative would affect far fewer workers, benefiting about 15 percent of the state’s workforce. Recent polling, meanwhile, found that 52 percent of Arkansans back the $10.10 wage hike.