Common Good Iowa

Minimum wage ... for legislators only?

Posted on April 25, 2024 at 1:25 PM by Sean Finn

Republicans admit the need for minimum-wage hike – but only for themselves

The Iowa House in the final week of the legislative session passed a bill by a vote of 58-38 to increase legislators’ base salaries to $35,000 beginning in 2025 and make annual cost-of-living adjustments starting in 2026. During floor debate, the bill’s primary backer, Rep. Joel Fry, reminded listeners that legislators’ current pay rate of $25,000 went into effect in 2007 and hasn't been adjusted for inflation or rising costs of living.  

But somehow, the representative’s logic only extends as far as the State Capitol grounds. He and other proponents failed to acknowledge that same reality for low-wage workers throughout Iowa by increasing the minimum wage and indexing it to rise with inflation.

For years, state Republicans have refused to budge on increasing the state minimum wage of $7.25, which has been in place since January 2008.

HF 2700, which did not advance in the Senate, would have set the new minimum for state legislators (they get a pay boost to $47,000 by taking on a leadership position) and increased salaries for other statewide elected officials.

The idea of increasing and indexing a minimum wage is a great one, but at Common Good Iowa, we want that approach to include the families and workers who need it most — see “Increase the minimum wage to $15 an hour.”

Perhaps next year we could see agreement to offer a broader proposal to increase everyone’s minimum wage by 40%?

Although state legislators only work at the Capitol about a third of the year, their current salary of $25,000 is more than a minimum-wage worker earns for a whole year’s work. Common Good Iowa’s recent Cost of Living in Iowa report revealed that 1 in 6 households with a full-time worker struggle to afford a bare-bones budget.

If House Republicans are willing to admit that $25,000 for 4½ months is not enough for them, they should cut the hypocrisy, hold their noses and finally increase the minimum wage. We are long overdue.


Sean Finn is a policy analyst at Common Good Iowa.

Graph source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (historical CPI-U)

Categories: Jobs & labor

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