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Reactions mixed to Oregon's minimum wage increase

Proponents say higher wages will bring people out of poverty, but others, like North Bend Lanes owner Mark Mattecheck, say the hike in payroll costs will devastate small businesses.

NORTH BEND, Ore. -- The minimum wage increase in Oregon is stirring up mixed emotions.

The bill narrowly passed the House last week and is waiting for approval from the Governor.

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How will the wage hike affect people locally?

"I think it's a good thing we're doing right now," says Sergio Osorio, a student at Southwestern Oregon community College.

The new legislation received a stamp of approval from some Oregonians like Osorio, a student who is also minimum wage employee.

"People will be buying more things from businesses," adds Osorio, "especially around here where we like to spend on local businesses."

The bill would begin a series of gradual increases over six years, raising the state's minimum wage to $13.50 in mid-sized cities and $12.50 in rural communities.

Proponents say higher wages will bring people out of poverty, but others, like North Bend Lanes owner Mark Mattecheck, say the hike in payroll costs will devastate small businesses.

"When your payroll goes up, workers comp goes up tied to that; insurance is tied to your payroll so it goes up; the taxes go up," says Mattecheck.

Mattecheck has 20 employees. In a letter written to the Oregonian, Mattecheck said that would mean coming up with an additional $48,000 dollars a year, and that extra revenue would have to come from his customers.

Right now a game will cost you $3.50, or $8 a week for seniors. But Mattecheck says those prices will have to go up.

"It doesn't maybe seem like a lot of money, but for that to go up to $9, it's a big deal to seniors," Mattecheck says.

80 percent of his customers are seniors, many on fixed incomes. He says if bowling is out of their budget, the minimum wage increase might be the final strike for North Bend Lanes.

"I don't want them to make it so hard to do business in our area that we're going to end up like the big department stores and have to close."

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