OKLAHOMA CITY —— Gov. Mary Fallin on Monday signed a measure that bars cities and towns from increasing the minimum wage above the state rate.

The state has adopted the federal minimum wage of $7.25. There has been a proposal at the federal level to increase it to $10.10 an hour.

Critics of raising the minimum wage say increasing the wage will hurt businesses and result in layoffs. Supporters say it is long overdue and is needed to reduce poverty.

President Barack Obama in February signed an executive order to raise the minimum wage for federal contract workers to $10.10 an hour.

Senate Bill 1023 critics say it removes local control for cities and towns.

"I support pursuing smart economic policies that attract and retain good, high-paying jobs to the state of Oklahoma," Fallin said. "Most jobs in Oklahoma pay well above minimum wage, and I am working hard to help create more of those jobs and increase the standard of living for our families."

She said the measure protects the state economy from public policy that would destroy jobs.

"Mandating a minimum wage increase at the local level would drive businesses to other communities and states, and would raise prices for consumers," Fallin said.

Fallin said that advocates argue that the increase would lift low-income families out of poverty.

"However, most minimum wage workers are young, single people working part-time or entry level jobs," Fallin said. "Many are high school or college students living with their parents in middle-class families.

"Mandating an increase in the minimum wage would require businesses to fire many of those part-time workers. It would create a hardship for small-business owners, stifle job creation and increase costs for consumers. And it would do all of these things without even addressing the goal of reducing poverty."

Sen. Dan Newberry, R-Tulsa, and House Speaker Jeff Hickman, R-Fairview, are the authors of the measure.

Newberry said if every municipality had a different rate, it would negatively affect job creation.

House Minority Leader Scott Inman, D-Del City, said Republicans have argued that the federal government telling states what to do is bad public policy.

"Well, now Republican leadership in Oklahoma City have decided they can tell every city and town and their voters what to do," Inman said.

"We believe that if the citizens of a community want to set the minimum wage in their town at particular rate through the initiative petition process, they ought to have a right to do that. Gov. Fallin and Republican leaders apparently felt it was more important to strip the citizens of their initiative petition rights, and that is disappointing."

Barbara Hoberock 405-528-2465

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