Floridians who work for a job that pays the state minimum wage currently have to live off of $8.46 an hour. Luckily, that might change, because of the work of the individuals fighting for a $15 minimum wage at the organization Florida for a Fair Wage.
The minimum wage was originally meant to be a wage that could support an individual and keep them out of poverty, but for many young people and working-class Americans, the minimum wage is not enough.
The effort to put an initiative on the 2020 election ballot to amend the Florida constitution with a mandate for a $15 minimum wage is close to becoming a reality. Only 20,000 signatures need to be obtained in Florida in order for the initiative to appear on the 2020 ballot.
If the initiative is successful, it would not raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour overnight. The initiative states that it “raises minimum wage to $10.00 per hour effective September 30th, 2021. Each September 30th thereafter, minimum wage shall increase by $1.00 per hour until the minimum wage reaches $15.00 per hour on September 30th, 2026.”
Not only will this initiative improve the rate of pay for minimum wage workers through 2027, but by September of that year the minimum wage will be adjusted every year to reflect the rate of inflation in the state. This will ensure that we do not end up in the same position of having a minimum wage that leaves working people behind.
This ballot initiative will do wonders to help the Floridian economy considering that much of the working class will have more buying power and more money will fluctuate throughout the economy.
The minimum wage particularly affects college students. The Bureau of Labor Statistics stated that those under 25 make up half of individuals making the federal minimum wage or less, despite being only one-fifth of those working as hourly earners.
Skeptics of the measure may point to small business as a reason to not implement a higher minimum wage. No one wants small businesses to have to cut down on staff or cut back hours for their employees.
It is therefore all the more important that we assist small businesses throughout this transition. Additional small business tax cuts and subsidies should be considered by the Florida Legislature to work alongside this minimum wage increase.
The prospects of this ballot initiative passing in 2020 are bright. Many states have implemented minimum wage increases, including many red states. The historically Republican stronghold of Missouri even voted for their minimum wage to increase to $12 an hour back in the 2018 midterms with 62 percent of the vote. Increasing the minimum wage is an idea that appeals to all regardless of political party.
It is important that people of all backgrounds support the efforts of Florida for a Fair Wage by signing the petition and voting for the resolution on election day. Implementing this wage increase will ensure that working citizens are paid a wage that reflects their hard work.
Jared Sellick is a junior majoring in political science.