Governor John Bel Edwards has said boosting the minimum wage in Louisiana is one of his top priorities during this legislative session.

A measure has passed out of a Senate committee on a 3-2 vote. The bill by New Orleans Senator Troy Carter would bump up the state minimum wage to $15 an hour beginning next year. The current minimum wage is $7.25 an hour.

Senator Carter says cashiers, waiters, food prep workers, fast food workers and home health aides are the top five jobs where the workers make less than $8.25 an hour.

Carter says we have to make an effort to help these front line workers.

Several people testified before the Committee including Executive Director of the Louisiana Partnership for Children and Families Susan East Nelson who supports the effort saying one in four children in the state face food insecurities.

The bill is now expected to be heard in the Senate Finance Committee.

At the beginning of this year, the minimum wage was increased in several states. The biggest increase is in New Mexico where the wage went up from $9 dollars an hour to $10.50.

In the state of New York, the minimum wage is $12.50, but it's $15 in New York City.

In our region, the minimum wage in Arkansas has increased to $11 an hour.

The federal minimum wage is $7.25 an hour and that has not changed since 2009. States can implement a higher minimum and several states have done that. But so far, Louisiana has not.

Opponents are concerned an increase in the minimum wage will hurt small business owners because of higher cost to keep a full staff.

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