- Associated Press - Tuesday, January 14, 2014

OLYMPIA, Wash. (AP) - Gov. Jay Inslee, saying too many parents with full-time jobs are struggling to put food on the table for their families, has proposed raising Washington’s minimum wage by as much as $2.50 an hour.

Washington already has the highest state minimum wage in the country at $9.32 an hour, and it rises steadily thanks to a voter-approved initiative that ties it to inflation.

In his State of the State address Tuesday, Inslee suggested the minimum wage should be somewhere between $10.82 and $11.82 cents an hour.

“There are tens of thousands of jobs that people depend on that don’t provide a living wage in our state,” the Democratic governor said. “An increase in minimum wage means more money being spent in our economy.”

The minimum wage issue has been prominent in Washington state politics recently.

In November, voters in the airport city of SeaTac narrowly approved a measure granting a local $15 an hour minimum wage for many workers. The measure applied to workers at the airport and related industries, like hotels and rental car companies.

But a King County Superior Court judge ruled that the law applied to about 1,600 hotel and parking lot workers in SeaTac, but not to employees and contractors working within Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, which is operated by the Port of Seattle.

Seattle officials have been exploring the possibility of raising the minimum wage there to as high as $15 an hour.

Murray said Inslee’s call for a statewide minimum wage increase was a boost for his efforts toward a $15 wage in Seattle. He noted that Seattle salaries tend to be higher than other areas in the state, so he said Inslee’s proposed statewide range made sense.

“It’s time to have a statewide discussion,” Murray said.

Republicans in the House and Senate were cool to the idea, saying it would place strains on the agriculture industry, small businesses and those in counties that border Idaho, which has a minimum wage at just $7.25 - a difference of perhaps $4 an hour under Inslee’s plan.

“We need to make sure we’re competitive,” said House Minority Leader Dan Kristiansen, R-Snohomish.

Other issues Inslee mentioned in his address included:

-EDUCATION

Inslee wants lawmakers to add another $200 million to the state’s education system this year, and he also promised a cost-of-living raise for teachers.

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