NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Gov. Bill Haslam said Monday he wants to leave it up to local governments to decide whether to set their own wage requirements for contractors.
The Republican governor told reporters that he’s “not a fan of the living wage,” but that those decisions should be left up to counties and cities.
Haslam’s stance puts him at odds with some fellow Republicans in the Legislature.
Rep. Glen Casada of Franklin and Sen. Brian Kelsey of Germantown are sponsoring legislation seeking to ban higher wage requirements set by local governments and to repeal those standards where they have already been set in place.
“Local governments are unwittingly pricing certain employees out of jobs, especially minority teens, who do not yet have the skill set to demand high-wage, high-benefit jobs,” Kelsey said in a release announcing the bill last month.
The city of Memphis requires contractors to pay workers without benefits at least $12.32 per hour, while those with benefits can earn no less than $10.27 per hour.
“If Memphis wants to decide that, it’s city contractors dealing with them,” Haslam said. “So if they want to put that in place for themselves, they should be able to do that.”
A similar wage proposal is being considered in Nashville.
The governor said he doesn’t see parallels between his stance on the wage measure and a bill he signed earlier this year voiding a Nashville ordinance that barred companies that discriminate against gays and lesbians from doing business with the city.
“Little different implications,” Haslam said, though he didn’t elaborate.
Haslam said he wouldn’t speculate on whether he would sign a ban on local governments requiring pay levels that are higher than the federal minimum wage.
“I’m not in the practice of commenting on things that may or may not happen,” he said.