PINELLAS COUNTY, Fla. — Florida voters have approved a measure raising the state’s minimum wage to $15 an hour over the next six years.
Advocates say it will lift the pay for hundreds of thousands of workers.
A supermajority of Florida voters on Tuesday approved the amendment to the Florida Constitution that will raise Florida’s minimum wage from the current $8.56 an hour to $15 an hour by 2026.
Supporters of Amendment 2 said it's impossible to live on the current minimum wage given the state’s cost of living. Opponents said it would stifle growth as Florida’s battered tourism economy recovers from the impact of the new coronavirus.
The groups supporting the minimum wage increase included "Fight for 15" and "Florida for a Fair Wage" led by attorney John Morgan.
They say the higher wages will lift people out of poverty and help them keep up with the cost of living increases.
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They also say those workers would be able to contribute to the economy by having more money to spend.
The wage increase would not go up overnight. It would be a tiered increase over the next five years beginning with $10 an hour in September.
Right now, Florida's minimum wage is $8.56 an hour, which is above the federal minimum wage.
“There’s a whole mentality of people out there who don’t want to pay people fairly. I have a wage in our division, we have 25 lawyers that do nothing but sue companies who cheat people out of their wages, their overtime, their tips. So $8 an hour, $320 a week? Can’t live on it," said Morgan.
Those who were against the increase include many in the restaurant and hotel industry who say it would do more harm than good.
They say it will lead to layoffs, fewer hours for workers and even business closures.