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Gov. Brown unveils minimum wage plan

Government — Portland workers will get $15.52, while rest of state $13.50 under plan unveiled by the governor Thursday before hearing

SALEM — Gov. Kate Brown unveiled a plan last week for a two-tiered minimum wage in the state.

The proposal, released Thursday hours before a public hearing on the issue at the capitol, would gradually boost the minimum from $9.25 to $15.52 in 2022 only in the greater Portland area.

Housing prices and cost of living have prompted researchers from one Portland-area think tank to describe the need for a higher minimum as “urgent.”

“The costs of essentials such as food, child care and rent are rising so fast that wages can’t keep up,” Brown said in a statement. “Many Oregonians working full-time can’t make ends meet and that’s not right.”

In the rest of the state, the plan would hike the minimum to $10.25 in 2017 and $13.50 by 2022.

After 2022, the minimum would return to increasing in conjunction with Consumer Price Index, the governor’s office said.

The proposal will be presented to the Legislature during its 35-day session in February and March.

The proposal was shaped through conversations with stakeholders in the public and private sectors. The plan is separate from a proposal by state Sen. Michael Dembrow (D-Portland) that also would set different regional minimums around the state, said Chris Pair, a press secretary in Brown’s office.

Another proposal out of the House Committee on Business and Labor would mimic a union-backed ballot initiative that would raise the minimum to $13.50 around the state and give cities and counties authority to set a higher minimum.

Brown’s office indicated the plan is intended to give businesses more certainty and time to plan than a ballot initiative process would allow.

Another ballot initiative that has collected nearly 40,000 signatures would have set the statewide minimum to $15. Those petitioners have said they’ll move forward with their initiative unless the Legislature sets a $15 minimum or higher in the Portland area.