I believe in the American Dream.

I believe that here, in the richest and most powerful nation in the world, any man or woman willing to work hard and play by the rules should be able to rise as far as their talent and ambition will carry them. I believe that this is one of the fundamental principles upon which our great nation is built and it is the promise we make to our children.

I believe in the American Dream and I believe it is my job, as Mayor of Columbia, to do everything within my power to provide that opportunity to all of our citizens regardless of what they look like, where they live, who they know or what God they pray to.

I believe in the American Dream. But I also know that, despite all we’ve done to create new, high paying jobs and cut metro unemployment by roughly 40% over the past four years, for too many of our families a future of economic security and prosperity is simply too far out of reach. I know that, for too many of our families struggling in back breaking generational poverty, the American Dream will never come true.

Right now over 860,000 South Carolinians, roughly 18.6% of our state population, are living in poverty. 

Here in Columbia over 24% of our citizens live in poverty and nearly a quarter of them are children.

That is simply unacceptable. We must do more. That’s why I want to take this opportunity today to announce my full and unqualified support for his effort to raise the federal minimum wage to $10.10 per hour.

Furthermore, because you can’t talk the talk unless you’re willing to walk the walk, I will be asking my fellow Council Members to support a resolution that – in coordination with our citywide Comp and Class study – will make the necessary adjustments to apply that same principle to our own employees.

Let me be clear: right now even the lowest paid full time city employee makes well over the current minimum wage of $7.25 an hour. And, once you add in benefits like health insurance and retirement contributions, I am confident the full value of that position exceeds the $10.10 threshold.

But this is about salary. This is about the dollars that man or woman takes home to his or her family. This is about leading by example and setting a standard we expect our community to live up to.

This is about raising the minimum wage so that nobody in our community has to work full time just to live in poverty.

Sincerely yours,

Steve Benjamin

Mayor, City of Columbia
October 10, 2014

Scroll to Top