ATHENS, GEORGIA — Georgia’s minimum wage is only $5.15 an hour. Since that is more than $2 lower than the federal minimum wage, low-income workers take home the higher amount of at least $7.25 an hour. That’s still not enough to get by in Georgia, where many families working for minimum wage are stuck below the poverty line.
However, according to Senate candidate Karen Handel (R), Georgia’s former Secretary of State, the government has “absolutely no business” in private sector wages. In an interview with ThinkProgress on Monday, Handel suggested that minimum wage laws should not exist:
LEBER: I wanted to get your views on the Paycheck Fairness Act that Congress has considered and whether it is necessary or an important priority for the government to be involved in?
HANDEL: The federal government has absolutely no business being involved in mandating salary and wages in the private sector. None whatsoever.
If elected, Handel would join the subset of GOP leaders who think the federal minimum wage shouldn’t exist at all. Yet some Republicans, including Mitt Romney, Tim Pawlenty, and Rick Santorum disagree. A growing number of businesses have also argued that it’s time for a raise. Economic research and real world experience suggests that they’re right: a $10.10 wage hike would encourage higher performance standards, as well as improve retention and recruiting.
Handel is competing in a tight race that looks likely to head to a runoff to decide the Republican nominee for the Georgia seat.