WFSU News · Tallahassee · Panama City · Thomasville
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations
State News

Amendment 2 Proponents Say Minimum Wage Hike Would Boost Economy, Pointing To Seattle

Seattle Minimum Wage
Ted S. Warren/AP
FILE - In this June 2, 2014, file photo, a sign that reads "15 Good Work Seattle" is displayed below Seattle City Hall, right, and the Columbia Center building, left, after the Seattle City Council passed a $15 minimum wage measure.

Supporters of a proposed constitutional amendment to raise Florida’s minimum wage are countering opponents’ argument that the move stymies a competitive business environment.

Amendment 2, as it will appear on the ballot, would hike the minimum wage to $15 per hour by 2026, if voters approve it in November. Its proponents are making a last-minute appeal to voters before the general election.

Democratic Florida Senator Jose Javier Rodriguez hosted a media call Tuesday in support of Amendment 2. Rodriguez says voters who want Florida’s minimum wage boosted won’t see it done by the Republican-controlled state legislature.

“The leadership we need is not in the legislature, unfortunately – the majority control there. We as voters and everyday people, rely on the citizens’ initiative process,” Rodriguez told press.

Rodriguez was joined by other supporters of the proposed amendment. Among them was president of labor union federation, the Florida AFL-CIO, Rich Templin, who argued a similar minimum wage hike in Seattle boosted the economy there before Covid-19 disruptions.

Under Seattle’s minimum wage hike passed in 2014, which is being done on a phased-in basis just as Florida's Amendment 2 would function, the city is set to bump up to $15 per hour in 2021.

Templin says it got off to a rocky start, but has become successful.

“We now have a real-world experience when we look at Seattle: What we found was a temporary reduction in workers’ hours, we saw a temporary reduction in business activity,” Templin said. “But it quickly rebounded and actually, the Seattle economy pre-COVID, was doing far better than it was before the raise of the minimum wage to $15 an hour.”

Earlier this week, Republican state House speaker Chris Sprowls participated in a media call to publicly oppose the amendment. Sprowls says wages are raised naturally in a competitive market, which he asserts Florida has – giving the state an edge in attracting businesses.

“I would say trust in the legislature and what the policies that’s been driven out of Tallahassee over the last couple of decades. We’re the number one place to do business right now in the country,” Sprowls said on a call with media Monday. “And I think if you continue to allow us to do our job we’ll continue to make that environment competitive. And real wages will rise as a direct result of that.”

Governor Ron DeSantis has questioned enacting a wage hike via constitutional amendment, saying it’s not a good idea because a subsequent amendment would be the only way to revise or cancel it.