Hales calls for $15/hr minimum wage, gas tax increase

PORTLAND – Mayor Charlie Hales gave his state of the city address Friday, and announced that he wants anyone working in a full time permanent role for the city to make a minimum of $15 dollars an hour.

"This year we'll be proposing in my budget that all full-time city employees and permanent subcontracted employees for the city of Portland make at least $15 an hour. It's the right thing to do," said Hales to applause from the sold-out City Club crowd.

The mayor said he would lobby private businesses to do the same in paying a $15 minimum wage, and already had one major business leader agree to follow suit.

But one commissioner has already said she may not vote for the plan. Amanda Fritz spoke to KGW's Laural Porter during a taping of Straight Talk Friday afternoon, and said it would be unfair to non-permanent workers to not be included in the plan.

Fritz is in charge of the Portland Parks and Recreation department, which employs many seasonal workers. She said there are better ways to create family-wage jobs.

"We've got to be real careful not to just do something that sounds good and may help one set of folks, and make it more difficult to provide full time jobs with benefits and retirement," said Fritz.

Mayor Hales also talked about his failed attempt to get a street fee passed in Portland in 2014.

He called on state and federal lawmakers to raise the gas tax, saying with gas process low, it was the perfect time to raise it 25 cents. But he added that Portlanders would ultimately have to pay extra to fix a $1.5 billion dollar backlog of street safety and maintenance issues.

"There is an easy way out on this, to do nothing," he said. "I'm not that guy, this is not that council, and we're not that city. Together we must get this done."


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