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Oklahoma In Middle Of Minimum Wage Debate

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OKLAHOMA CITY -

An increase of minimum wage is one main reason why Governor Mary Fallin spent the last week in the nation's capital.

President Obama wants to see wages increase over $10.00 an hour, but Fallin feels it will hurt small businesses. Oklahoma is right in the middle of the minimum wage debate.

Employees would be paid more. And while the state's number one employer, Wal-Mart might be okay, small business owners may be faced with some tough decisions.

While owning a small business for nine years, Blue Seven owner Caleb Arter has made plenty of decisions. But when talking minimum wage, Arter just can't make up his mind.

"There's always two sides to it," he said.

Arter starts his employees at $8.00 an hour, just above the state's minimum wage of $7.25.

"It's would be hypocritical of me if I did not invest in my employees like I do my inventory," Arter said.

And if the minimum wage is raised to $10.10 an hour, Arter's 22 employees wouldn't be the only ones affected.

"It would put a strain especially if it was a drastic increase," he said.

Oklahoma Policy Institute's Gene Perry reported numbers found from the U.S. Census. Sixty-thousand Oklahomans are currently on minimum wage, which makes up 6.3% of hourly employees, the 5th highest percentage in the nation.

"You're really just boosting wages for employees who are just getting by and they are going to spend that money in the state," Perry said.

In response to those finding Governor Fallin's Communications director Alex Weintz issued this statement:

"Small business owners are going to be particularly hard-pressed to comply with a mandatory wage increase, and in many instances we know their only choice will be layoffs. Governor Fallin is focused on policies that create and retain good jobs in Oklahoma. Her belief is that President Obama's plan would do the opposite."

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