Some Massachusetts lawmakers are getting behind a bill that would gradually raise the state's minimum wage from $8 an hour to $11 by 2015.
This would be the first time the state would see an increase in the minimum wage in four years.
Some say it's long overdue.
"I think because of the cost of living and gas prices, and all the other factors in that, it's making a lot of people have a hard time making ends meet," said Natalina Samuels of Springfield.
But small business owners like Pintu Chawla, owner of Pintu's in West Springfield, fear it could hurt his payroll if the minimum wage increases by nearly $3 an hour.
"In the small restaurant industry it takes a toll when things like that happen, the strain of a few hundred dollars can close a business down," he said.
Chawla says he understands it's nearly impossible to support a family on minimum wage, but it would be much easier for large chains to support the switch, than small businesses like his.
"They need to find a middle ground, where they give tax breaks to the smaller guys, so they'll start hiring."
Massachusetts does already have one of the highest minimum wages in the country at $8 an hour.
But some labor groups, as well as residents here in Western Mass, believe that raising that to $11 an hour could help everyone.
"We need some kind of economic burst, or spur to get things moving," said Sean Mulka, Springfield.
Chawla says that if the time comes when he has to raise wages at his restaurant, it could end up having the opposite effect.
"The situation will come where the small business owner will start eliminating the positions."
Local lawmakers say they don't expect the increase to be discussed on Beacon Hill anytime soon, and that at the earliest it would be a ballot question in the Nov. 2014 election.
Copyright 2013 WSHM (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.
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