Nevada NewsMakers

News - May 2, 2019 - by Ray Hagar

By Ray Hagar

Nevada Newsmakers

Assemblywoman Jill Tolles, R-Reno, said she understands the push by the Democratic majority at the Legislature to raise the minimum wage in Nevada.

"I don't think there is anyone in this building who doesn't want people make a living," she said on Nevada Newsmakers about her colleagues in Carson City.

Yet she opposes AB 456, which would raise the minimum wage in Nevada to $12 per hour for those who are not offered health insurance and $11 for those who are. Currently, Nevada's minimum wage is $8.25 without health insurance and $7.25 with it.

Tolles said she would like lawmakers to take a "more holistic approach' to the problem. Some minimum wages jobs were never meant to sustain those raising a family, she told host Sam Shad.

Instead of raising the minimum wage, lawmakers should find ways to get minimum-wage earners into work force development programs, she said.

"I appreciate where people are coming from ... because they are trying to address the needs of the vulnerable and provide more of a living wage," she said. "So as conservatives, we need to have a response to that. How do we get underemployed adults into work force development programs, educational programs, get them up skilled? We have to face the reality that more and more jobs are being automated."

Raising the minimum wage "only tackles part of the problem," Tolles said.

Lawmakers should ask "how do we have a more holistic approach?" she said. "How do we get you (minimum wage earner) more skills and get you into a higher level of your career and economic sustainability for you and your family?"

Raising the minimum wage could also harm older Nevadans on fixed incomes who depend on services by those making minimum wage, Tolles said.

She used the example her constituent's senior hospice care business.

Overnight care for seniors could go as high as $18 per hour because of overtime laws if the minimum wage is increased.

"Then, you have to charge more to that family, to that patient than you would have had to before because now you run up against Medicaid reimbursement and Medicare reimbursement," Tolles said. "So you can no longer be sustainable caring for the vulnerable ones who are really looking at the end of their lives. And you are telling the family members, 'We can't take you anymore because we have priced you out.' "