Story at a glance
- Amendment 2 on Florida ballots will ask voters if the state minimum wage should increase to $15 per hour.
- Advocates for the measure say the current minimum wage is not a feasible salary.
In addition to voting for federal and local government officials today, Florida residents have another choice on their ballots: potentially boosting the minimum wage to $15 per hour.
A “yes” vote on Florida Amendment 2 will support the incremental increase of the minimum wage hourly rate from $8.56 per hour to $15 per hour by September 2026. Voting “no” on the proposal would keep the minimum wage at $8.56 per hour, only adjusting it annually based on a set formula.
Ballotpedia reports that a 60 percent supermajority vote is required to pass Amendment 2.
The schedule outlines a jump from the current $8.56 hourly rate to $10.00 per hour by September 2021 and then increases by a dollar each year thereafter until 2026, when it will have hit $15.
The measure was put forth on ballots mainly through advocacy from the group Florida for a Fair Wage, which argues that the current minimum provides an unlivable income of $17,600 per year.
“Amendment 2 would lift pay for hundreds of thousands of Floridians and reverse decades of growing pay inequality,” the group writes. “It allows individuals to take pride in their work rather than fight the endless cycle of poverty.”
2019 data show that a majority of Americans support increasing the federal minimum wage to $15 per hour, up from $7.25.
Other states that have voted to increase their individual minimum wages automatically based on cost of living calculations include Montana, Ohio, South Dakota, Alaska and Minnesota earlier this year. Another 14 states, including Maryland, Missouri, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, Arizona and California all upped their minimum wages from previously approved ballot initiatives.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) remains opposed to Amendment 2, recently stating that “now is not the time” for a raise in minimum wage.
“Ballot Amendment 2 would close small businesses, kill jobs, and reduce wages,” DeSantis said. “We need to bring our economy back. Vote no on Ballot Amendment 2.”
Ballotpedia notes that on the Florida ballot, the projected financial impact will read that Amendment 2 “is estimated to have a net negative impact on the state budget,” potentially resulting in higher taxes to balance the state’s budget.
Projections indicate that additional annual wage costs will amount to roughly $16 million by 2022 and rise to $540 million by 2027 with the wage increases.
Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden has pledged support for a higher national minimum wage if he wins the 2020 election, planning to incentivize companies who pay workers $15 by awarding them federal contracts.
Economists appear just as split on increasing the minimum wage as politicians. An open letter published by the Economic Policy Institute (EPI) was signed by more than 40 economists supporting an increase of the minimum wage to $15 by 2024, noting that it would benefit about 28.1 million workers in the U.S.
The signatories also argue that a raise in minimum wage would serve as an injection into the overall economy and support business activity and note that “modest and infrequent” minimum wage growth fuels the growing inequality between the middle and lower classes.
Others argue that a high minimum wage will prompt job losses.
“Forget that we may lose as many as 500,000 jobs, forget all the prices going up on older people on fixed incomes — I think the really harsh part of this amendment passing would be the opportunity to get people into the workforce for the first time,” Jerry Parrish, the Florida Chamber Foundation chief economist, told reporters. “How many people can be worth $15 before they ever get their first job? Not that many. Most of us started in some minimum wage job to get some experience.”