Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear addresses the audience at the 50th annual Kentucky Country Ham Breakfast in Louisville, Ky., on July 19, 2015
Timothy D. Easley—AP
June 8, 2015 2:44 PM EDT

The hourly minimum wage for state workers in Kentucky is being raised from $7.25 to $10.10, Gov. Steve Beshear announced Monday.

The wage increase affects 510 state employees and will cost taxpayers $1.6 million. A third of the affected employees work in state nursing homes for military veterans, according to Beshear. Other wage changes include an increase of the hourly tipped minimum wage from $2.19 to $4.90. The policy will go into effect July 1.

Beshear took to Twitter to rigorously defend the new policy.

The increase for state employees sends a message to private business, says Beshear.

Beshear joins Democrat House Speaker Greg Stumbo and many of his party’s state representatives in his fight for higher minimum wages for Kentuckians. Rep. Stumbo has been advocating for legislation raising the minimum wage for all workers in Kentucky in recent legislative sessions. The bill has passed the Democratic controlled House but is facing opposition in the Republican senate. The hike comes amid national calls for a minimum wage increase to $15 per hour.

The movement has seen success in recent months, with $15 minimum wages having been established in Seattle, San Francisco and Los Angeles. The issue is also gaining the attention of 2016 presidential hopefuls; Hillary Clinton echoed wage activists in a speech delivered at a convention of low-wage workers in Detroit on Sunday, stating that she supports a $15 minimum wage.

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